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European Fruit Magazine

More bee species thanks to flowers in and outside the orchard

Counts in orchards on the German side of Lake Constance offer the proof: sowing flower strips and flower fields in and around the orchard, planting mixed hedgerows with flowering shrubs and trees around the orchard and offering nesting opportunities, promote the number of bee species present in (the neighbourhood of) the orchard. Within the framework of the Pro Planet project, fruit growers on Lake Constance started in 2010 sowing, laying out and building attractive habitats for wild bees. During counts in 2021, in orchards in the region, 112 different species of wild bees were found. 26 of those are in the list of endangered species. Compared with the reference year of 2010, the number of bee species has markedly increased. During the count in that year, 56 species of wild bees were found, half of which were in the orchards and half in vegetation around the orchards. Already during the second count in 2013, the number of wild bees appeared to have increased considerably.
Compared with 2017, in 2021, no greater number of bee species were counted. According to the initiators this was caused by the fact that the spring of 2021 was cold and wet, which has a negative impact on the wild bee population.

Cooperation growers and nature conservation organisations
The Pro Planet project is a good example of how growers and nature organisations can respect each other’s interest by means of good cooperation. Nature organisations, for instance, like to sow ecologically valuable plants and plant shrubs, but it is of importance for growers that no host plants for harmful insects are chosen.
The Pro Planet project has been imitated by other fruit growers. Meanwhile, the number of participants has grown from 11 in 2010 to 130 now. Approximately 570 ha were sown with multi-year flower seed mixtures, 14,400 hedgerows, trees and shrubs were planted and 300 nesting sites for insects, birds and bats placed.
The project is an initiative of the German Rewe supermarket chain. This supermarket sells the fruit of the participating growers under the Pro Planet label. The participating growers are financially supported in buying seed, trees and shrubs and nesting boxes. (Source Obstbau magazine)