Action Synopsis: Bee Conservation About Actions

Provide grass strips at field margins for bees

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
    not assessed
  • Certainty
    not assessed
  • Harms
    not assessed

Study locations

Key messages

Three replicated controlled trials in the UK have monitored wild bees on uncropped grassy field margins. Evidence of the effects on bees is mixed. One trial showed that 6 m wide grassy field margins enhanced the abundance, but not diversity, of wild bees at the field boundary. One trial showed that 6 m wide grassy field margins enhanced the abundance and diversity of bumblebees within the margin. A third, smaller scale trial showed neither abundance nor diversity of bumblebees was higher on sown grassy margins than on cropped margins.


About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A small replicated, controlled trial of field margin management options on two farms in North Yorkshire, England in one summer (Meek et al. 2002) did not find significantly more bumblebees on margins sown with tussocky grass than on naturally-regenerated margins or cropped margins. There were four replicates of each treatment.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled trial of the 6 m wide grassy field margin agri-environment scheme option at 21 sites in England found no difference in the diversity of wild bees (sampled in the field boundary by walked transect and sweep netting) between paired control fields and fields with sown grassy margins (Kleijn et al. 2006).

    Study and other actions tested
  3. The same study, reported elsewhere (Marshall et al. 2006), showed a significantly greater abundance of bees in boundaries of fields with sown grassy margins; 40% of the bees recorded were of one species, the red-tailed bumblebee Bombus lapidarius.

    Study and other actions tested
  4. A replicated, controlled trial of the 6 m wide sown grassy field margin agri-environment option at 32 sites across England (Pywell et al. 2006) found that grassy margins had more species, and a higher abundance of foraging bumblebees, than conventionally cultivated and cropped field margins (on average 6-8 bees of 1.3-1.4 species per transect on grassy margins, compared to 0.2 bees of 0.1 species/transect for cropped margins). Older grassy margins, sown more than three years previously, did not attract more foraging bumblebees than those sown in the previous two years.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Dicks, L.V., Showler, D.A. & Sutherland, W.J. (2010) Bee conservation: evidence for the effects of interventions. Pelagic Publishing, Exeter, UK


Where has this evidence come from?

List of journals searched by synopsis

All the journals searched for all synopses

Bee Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Bee Conservation
What Works 2021 cover

What Works in Conservation

What Works in Conservation provides expert assessments of the effectiveness of actions, based on summarised evidence, in synopses. Subjects covered so far include amphibians, birds, mammals, forests, peatland and control of freshwater invasive species. More are in progress.

More about What Works in Conservation

Download free PDF or purchase
The Conservation Evidence Journal

The Conservation Evidence Journal

An online, free to publish in, open-access journal publishing results from research and projects that test the effectiveness of conservation actions.

Read the latest volume: Volume 21

Go to the CE Journal

Discover more on our blog

Our blog contains the latest news and updates from the Conservation Evidence team, the Conservation Evidence Journal, and our global partners in evidence-based conservation.

Who uses Conservation Evidence?

Meet some of the evidence champions

Endangered Landscape ProgrammeRed List Champion - Arc Kent Wildlife Trust The Rufford Foundation Save the Frogs - Ghana Mauritian Wildlife Supporting Conservation Leaders
Sustainability Dashboard National Biodiversity Network Frog Life The international journey of Conservation - Oryx Cool Farm Alliance UNEP AWFA Bat Conservation InternationalPeople trust for endangered species Vincet Wildlife Trust