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Flowering Meadows

Seeds of wild flowers and herbs are scattered on the roadsides[1], public areas, parks, gardens, and meadows, as well as between fields and in settlement areas, in order to create living habitats for wild insects. While doing so, regional seeds of wild flowers and herbs are being used that are adapted to the soil type and local conditions.
 

 

Aim and innovation

Due to intensive agriculture, the habitat of wild insects, especially wild bees, has been severely restricted. In agricultural landscapes, the population has already decreased significantly due to pesticides, large-scale monocultures and edges of fields that have been systematically converted into arable land[2]. Already half of the approximately 560 wild bee species native to Germany are threatened by extinction.[3] As a result, crop plants are also less frequently pollinated, which is directly related to our ability to secure agricultural yields and thus to guarantee overall food security[4].

The aim is to create a vital habitat and natural equilibrium in potential meadow areas by providing sufficient food for wild insects such as mason bees, bumblebees, butterflies, leaf-cutter bees and stingless bees. By not cultivating, mowing or grazing these flowering meadows, nesting opportunities and food plants can develop, which thus provide the wild bees with a long-term food supply of nectar and pollen up into the winter[5]. In addition, the flowering meadows contribute to soil fertility and biodiversity, as birds, reptiles and small mammals get also attracted.[6] As a result, 80% of all flowering plants worldwide that are pollinated by insects (of which 85%, mostly fruit trees, are pollinated by honey bees) can ensure their reproduction.[7]

Examples

Honey Highway - Netherlands[19], Concours des prairies fleuries - France, United Kingdom

 

Category

intermediate consumption, production, consumption

 

Actors

district councils, schools, gardeners, farmers, all people

Development and current dynamics

In Europe, more and more initiatives are emerging from the general public to organize joint sowing on meadows (e.g. with seed bombs or ›beebombs‹[14]).[15] In the Honey Highway project in the Netherlands[16], elementary school children and students help with the sowing on the sides of the highway. This practical activity is a good educational opportunity to develop awareness of natural cycles and sustainable action at an early age. In France, initiatives and competitions for flowering meadows[17] are in place all over the country, which, according to studies, have already had a positive effect on biodiversity.[18] In the UK, a few local councils decided to sow flowering meadows instead of mowing, which in turn has the advantage of saving funds of the community for the mowing.

 

Sustainability potential

Ecological

  • biodiversity
  • soil
  • water (indirect)
  • climate (indirect)
  • air (indirect)
  • resource efficiency in production and consumption
  • promotion of regional, closed nutrient cycles

Economic

  • support of activities with positive external effects
  • increase of food security
  • promoting of recycling economy

Social

  • awareness / education for sustainable nutrition
  • nimal welfare

Risks / disadvantages

There are no risks involved as long as there are no attempts to breed the wild insects. Breeding wild insects carries the risk of viruses and parasites to spread as soon as there is a high concentration of otherwise wild insect species on a small area, as seen with the example of bumblebee breeding for pollinating tomato flowers.[20] These diseases can then also spread to other wild species outside the breeding area, thus posing a risk to their populations and to general food security.[21]

 


[1] Norfolk, O. (2019): How roadside flowers and makeshift meadows are saving our struggling bees. The Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/roadside-wildflowers-meadows-bees-uk-a8998866.html (20.02.2020)

[2] Garibaldi, L. A., et al. (2013): Wild Pollinators Enhance Fruit Set of Crops Regardless of Honey Bee Abundance. Science, 339(6127), pp. 1608–1611.https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1230200

[3] Fürsten-Reform Dr. med. Hans Plümer GmbH & Co. KG. (2019): Bienen als Bestäuber. BIHOPHAR HONIG. https://www.bihophar.de/de/bienenparadies/bienen-als-bestaeuber.html (20.02.2020)

[4] Garibaldi, L. A., et al. (2013): Wild Pollinators Enhance Fruit Set of Crops Regardless of Honey Bee Abundance. Science, 339(6127), pp. 1608–1611.https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1230200

[5] NABU Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. (n.d.): Wildbienen - NABU Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. .https://mecklenburg-vorpommern.nabu.de/tiere-und-pflanzen/insekten-und-spinnen/bienen-und-co/wildbienen/index.html (20.02.2020)

[6] Soliveres, S. et al. (2016): Biodiversity at multiple trophic levels is needed for ecosystem multifunctionality. Nature, 536(7617), pp. 456–459.https://doi.org/10.1038/nature19092

[7] Schwartauer Werke (2019): Die Bienen und unsere Ernährung. Bee Careful.http://www.bee-careful.com/de/initiative/der-einfluss-von-bienen-auf-unsere-taegliche-ernae/

[8] Michael S. Engel (2000): A New Interpretation of the Oldest Fossil Bee (Hymenoptera: Apidae). American Museum Novitates. Band 3296, 2000. pp. 1–11.

[9] Van Engelsdorp, D. & Meixner, M.D. (2010): A historical review of managed honey bee populations in Europe and the United States and the factors that may affect them. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. January 2010, 103, pp. S80-S95,doi:10.1016/j.jip.2009.06.011

[10] Stadtbienen (n.d.): Kurse. https://www.stadtbienen.org/kurse/ (20.02.2020)

[11] Deutscher Imkerbund e.V. (2007-2019): Deutscher Imkerbund e. V.. Imkerei in Deutschland Zahlen-Daten-Fakten. https://deutscherimkerbund.de/161-Imkerei_in_Deutschland_Zahlen_Daten_Fakten (20.02.2020); Quarks (2018): Darum sind Wildbienen wichtiger als Honigbienen. https://www.quarks.de/umwelt/tierwelt/darum-sind-wildbienen-wichtiger-als-honigbienen/ (20.02.2020)

[12] Garibaldi, L. A., et al. (2013): Wild Pollinators Enhance Fruit Set of Crops Regardless of Honey Bee Abundance. Science, 339(6127), pp. 1608–1611.https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1230200; Das Hummelhaus (2019): Hummeln als Bestäuber – Das Hummelhaus. https://www.das-hummelhaus.de/einleitung/wirtschaftliche-bedeutung-von-hummeln

[13] ibid.

[14] Beebombs (n.d.): Beebombs. https://www.beebombs.de/ (20.02.2020)

[15] An example here is the ›CSA Natural Farm and Public Food Forest‹ in Tunceli, Turkey. (Cetingulec , M. (2018). Turkey’s first 'communist' grocery chain goes global. In: Al-Monitor. www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/11/turkey-first-communist-grocery-chain.html)

[16] Honey Highway (n.d.): Dauerhaftes Paradies für Bienen. https://www.honeyhighway.de/ (20.02.2020)

[17] EUROPARC France (2019): Flowering Meadows Contest in France. https://www.europarc.org/case-studies/flowering-meadows-contest-france/ (20.02.2020)

[18] Technische Universität München (2016): Flowering meadows benefit humankind. https://www.tum.de/nc/en/about-tum/news/press-releases/details/33330/ (20.02.2020); Fleury, P. et al. (2015): Flowering Meadows. A result-oriented agri-environmental measure: Technical and value changes in favour of biodiversity. Land Use Policy, 46, pp. 103–114. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2015.02.007

[19] Honey Highway (n.d.): Dauerhaftes Paradies für Bienen. https://www.honeyhighway.de/ (20.02.2020)

[20] Arbetman, M.P. et al. (2013): Alien parasite hitchhikes to Patagonia on invasive bumblebee. Biological Conservation.March 2013. 15:3. pp. 489–494. doi.org/10.1007/s10530-012-0311-0

[21] Sheila R. Colla et al. (2006): Plight of the bumble bee: Pathogen spillover from commercial to wild populations. Mai 2006. 129: 4. pp. 461-467. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2005.11.013