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Friday, May 27, 2022
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'No Mow May' spreads across the country as communities seek to protect bee populations

Following a couple of years of success in Wisconsin, “No Mow May” continues to grow in Wisconsin and spread across the nation as a measure to help promote bee populations.

“No Mow May,” a campaign to aid bee populations, is returning for its third year as more communities across the state and country move to protect bee species.

The campaign started two years ago in Appleton, Wis., to promote the growth of common flowering plants, such as dandelions, violets, clover and creeping charlie, that help maintain bee populations.

Over 20 Wisconsin communities are participating in No Mow May this year, namely Appleton, Cross Plains, De Pere, Egg Harbor, Fort Atkinson, Fox Crossing, Green Bay, Greenfield, Hortonville, Kaukauna, La Crosse, Medford, New Holstein, Oshkosh, Rib Mountain, Rockland, Stevens Point, Sun Prairie, Superior, Verona, Wausau and Wisconsin Rapids.

Participating in No Mow May might violate city or other local ordinances that limit lawn length in communities that are not participating. However, most participating cities that have ordinances requiring lawns to be kept short are suspending the ordinances for the month of May.

Israel Del Toro, an assistant biology professor at Lawrence University, is one of the leaders of No Mow May and was part of a team that studied bee populations after the inaugural 2020 campaign in Appleton. 

That research found lawns participating in No Mow May saw a fivefold increase in bee abundance and a threefold increase in bee diversity, as compared to nearby mowed parkland.

“No Mow May is a tiny idea with huge consequences, much like the bees we are feeding,” Del Toro said in a statement to The Daily Cardinal. “By being good stewards of our biodiversity and protecting our natural resources, we too benefit from all of the pollination. Nearly one-third of all the foods we eat are pollinator-dependent.”

Although participation is voluntary, Del Toro is organizing a citizens science project, “BYO-Beez,” which anyone participating in No Mow May can contribute to. The BYO-Beez project will further Del Toro’s research by allowing participants to measure their lawns and provide other basic measurements on their lawn’s progress. 

"If you have a smartphone and a tape measure, you can participate," Del Toro said. "We'll be releasing that information within the next week."

Anyone living in a community not participating in No Mow May can still lend their local bees a helping hand by checking lawn requirements with their local government or petitioning their city council or local government to implement the program in future years.

“No Mow May is just a simple initiative to give our bees and other pollinators a leg up and a healthy start to the growing season,” Del Toro said.

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