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These are the perfect power couple to boost bees in orchards 

According to Greenpeace, bees are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our wildflowers, providing us with a free but vitally important service.

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By Alice Clifford via SWNS

Strips of flowers and more hedges are the perfect power couple to boost bees in orchards and add to the biodiversity of farming land, new research reveals.

They work together to provide continuous nectar and pollen to bees over the growing season, allowing them to pollenate en masse.

This is crucial in intensive agriculture landscapes, where wild bees are rare due to the lack of flowers.

Pollination is vital for farmers, as crop systems like apples are heavily dependent on it.

So, flowering hedges and perennial flower strips can boost wild bee diversity and abundance and help grow the landscape.

With wild bees visiting hedges from around March until June, and perennial flower strips later in the year, from June to August, the combination keeps bees buzzing all season long.

What is more, after a perennial flower strip's first season, it starts to bloom for even longer, often being bee-ready by April.

According to Greenpeace, bees are responsible for pollinating 80 percent of our wildflowers, providing us with a free but vitally important service.

But in the last 10 years, a third of the UK's bees have disappeared, making now a pivotal moment to fight to get our bees back.

“For enhancing wild bees in intensive agricultural landscapes one should provide a network of perennial flower strips and some well-maintained hedges to create a continuous flower offer over the entire growing season," said lead author Dr. Vivien von Königslöw, who works in the department of nature conservation and landscape ecology at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

"Our results suggest preferential establishment of perennial flower strips rather than annual flower strips because perennial flower strips flower much earlier in the second year of establishment than in the year of sowing and attract different bee communities over the years.

"Thus, they are more suitable to enhance bee diversity.”

Although hedges and flower strips were found to complement each other, the researchers revealed that flower strips were more beneficial, as they were in bloom for periods when other flowers were scarce.

Hedges, on the other hand, predominantly overlapped with apple trees and orchard ground vegetation flowering in spring, making them less crucial.

The study ran from 2018 to 2020 and the researchers compared flower resources and wild bee populations across 18 apple orchards in the Lake Constance region of Germany, a major apple growing region.

This study was published in the British Ecological Society’s Journal of Applied Ecology.

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