You’ve heard of No Shave November and Dry January. Bangor is considering adopting No Mow May, an international movement aimed at helping bee populations thrive as they emerge from hibernation.
The city is considering relaxing its Property Maintenance Code for the month of May. The code requires property owners to keep lawn grass and weed lengths under 10 inches. Bangor city councilors will decide next month whether to allow the rule change.
Relaxing that rule would allow residents to let their lawns flower and grow, creating prime habitats for hungry bees, which play a vital role in the global ecosystem and food production, said Bangor Code Enforcement Director Jeff Wallace.
Bees are essential to Maine’s economy, because they affect the success of crops such as blueberries and potatoes, which are some of Maine’s largest exports.
“By allowing lawns to grow longer and not applying pesticides to flowering plants in a lawn, property owners can provide nectar and pollen to help their bee neighbors thrive,” Wallace wrote in a letter to Bangor city councilors.
It’s unclear whether the city will refrain from mowing some of its green spaces to join in the trend, Wallace said.
Pollinators, including bees, butterflies, birds and bats, allow many plants and food crops to reproduce, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Pollinators affect nearly 90 percent of all wild flowering plants and 35 percent of agricultural land worldwide.
While bees are an essential part of ecosystems worldwide, their populations have declined significantly in recent decades, which threatens global food security, the FAO reported.
Plantlife, an England-based organization, invented the No Mow May movement in 2019, with the intention of aiding its struggling bee population. The movement has since become popular in the United States. Rockland was the first town in Maine to adopt the practice last year.
When Appleton, Wisconsin, adopted No Mow May in 2020, the community found a five times higher bee population in areas that weren’t mowed compared to greenspace that was mowed frequently.
“The study out of Appleton, Wisconsin, was pretty eye-opening,” Wallace said. “It’s a city about twice the size of Bangor, so to see the results they had in just one year was really encouraging.”
Wallace said there’s some concern that longer lawns can serve as a haven for ticks, but Wallace said residents aren’t required to let their lawns grow if they’re concerned.
“If we do it for a year and hear about an uptick in the number of ticks or other unintended consequences, then we’ll revisit it,” Wallace said. “Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.”