May is the start of a conservation initiative called No Mow May, where residents are asked to avoid mowing, raking or cleaning up their yards and gardens through May to help pollinators as they emerge from hibernation.

WAUKESHA 鈥 To cut your grass or not cut your grass, that is the question.

May is the start of a conservation initiative called No Mow May. The goal is to let grass grow without mowing during May to protect habitats and provide vital lawn flowers for bees and other early-season pollinators. Flowering weeds, such as dandelions and clover, can be one of the earliest available nectar and pollen sources for bees when other food sources are not yet abundant.

Bee City USA states that up to 40% of pollinator species on Earth may be at risk of extinction in the coming years as a result of habitat loss, pesticide use, and climate change.

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Sam Pickens, owner of Buzzy Bees Honey and a Village of SM天地论坛 resident, has been a bee keeper and honey producer for 8 years. Buzzy Bees Honey locations are scattered around SM天地论坛 County and outside it.

"For us No May is an initiative to promote pollination habitat. We do not take the saying literal. But to mow less to allow insects, bugs and nature alike to begin to thrive before ripping into the vegetation is our goal," Pickens said.

Things like dandelions feed the bees coming out of winter, as they have both nectar and pollen which the bees need, according to Pickens.

The pollinators take pollen from one spot to another spot, which increases the chance for different flowers to flourish. Pickens said it is due to the cross pollination.

"For me as a bee keeper, these first flowers that are blooming, particularly dandelions, which have a bad rap as a weed, those guys give out nectar and pollen for the bees to have a resource to thrive off of," Pickens said.

Pickens said No Mow May also provides good nesting and hibernation locations by leaving leaves, plant stems, sticks, rodent holes, grass mats, etc.

He has heard from people who talk about Home Owners Association rules where they have to keep their yards looking nice.

"We don鈥檛 take No Mow May literal. We say to maybe do mow less May. Someone could maybe not mow their lawns for the first two weeks," he said.

Pickens admitted he mowed his lawn on Friday.

"It鈥檚 only the front. The sides and back is still not mowed. I do that because I鈥檓 in a home-based business and I do want it to look presentable for people who come by. I waited as long as I could," he said.

Pickens said the reason he mowed Friday was because the dandelions in his yard had turned white, which is good for the soil.

Other people in SM天地论坛 County responded to the question if they participate in No Mow May.

Kyle Bjerke asked if people were using No Mow May as an excuse to not mow at all.

鈥淭he real question should be, 鈥楬ow many of you are participating in No Mow May because you are using this as an excuse to be lazy?鈥欌 he said.

鈥淓very time I see my little patch of front yard, there鈥檚 birds, bees, butterflies, and bunnies. It seems there鈥檚 more each year. Plus, it鈥檚 so much prettier to me. However, this year it鈥檚 longer and I don鈥檛 know that we can make it all May. Fortunately, the critters got to enjoying it about mid-April this year,鈥 Jessica Stocks said.

Andrew Noffke of SM天地论坛 participated in No Mow May last year to help the bee population find food.

鈥淲hen I finally mowed last year I put my mower to the tallest setting and went over everything and then waited 2-3 days to cut it again to not shock the grass. This year the clover we planted is thriving so they鈥檙e flowering better than the dandelions, so I鈥檝e been able to cut the lawn once while still providing resources for the bees,鈥 he said.

SM天地论坛 County residents had concerns about ticks and not mowing their grass.

鈥淚 prefer my home not look abandoned and I鈥檓 not a fan of ticks or mosquitoes, so no,鈥 Sean Ninneman of SM天地论坛 said.

Kayla Steiner said she has seen a ton of ticks this season.

鈥淚n my 29 years of life I鈥檝e seen more ticks this year than I have in years prior. One in my car. My 2year-old had one on his head and my husband got one on his knee within a few days of each other. My daughter just saw a little one. Definitely not a fan,鈥 she said.

Xia Lee, a vector borne epidemiologist with Wisconsin Department Health Services, told The Freeman they are seeing tick numbers that are normal compared to previous years.

鈥淭all grass in residential areas can provide good habitat for ticks, but a lawn is usually an inhospitable habitat for deer ticks if it receives abundant sunlight during the day. Still, most tick studies have found that deer ticks prefer to stay near the shady areas at the edge of lawns or in the woods next to lawns and homes,鈥 Lee said.

Lee said if you do have a lawn that runs up against woods, a cedar wood chip barrier can be effective at repelling deer ticks and prevent them from moving from the woods into your lawn, as cedar wood chips contain natural oils that repel ticks.

鈥淲e recommend that people use bug spray while outdoors and do thorough tick checks while and after being outdoors. Taking a shower within two hours after being outdoors can be helpful to remove any ticks that might still be crawling on your skin and as a reminder to do a tick check,鈥 she said.

Pickens said the crazy Wisconsin weather and rain probably doesn鈥檛 help deciding whether or not to mow.

Pickens repeated that No Mow May doesn鈥檛 mean no mowing, but perhaps less frequent.

鈥淚t is about the pollinator鈥檚 habitat for me,鈥 he said.

鈥淵ou don鈥檛 have to not mow. Maybe mow less. You may not know what protecting the life and ecosystem for the bugs and insects are beneficial for. But it holds value. Maybe you spruce up your front yard. While allowing the back to benefit from the initiative,鈥 he said.

Pickens wants to save the bees not only from a business perspective but because beekeeping is a ton of fun for him. The sound of the buzzing is relaxing for him.

鈥淎s a father, whenever I have had to take a break from the kids because they can be a headache, I go in the back with my bees. Every time I have done so, it doesn鈥檛 take the problem away, but gives me that relief,鈥 Pickens said.


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