All pollinators are valuable and should be cherished and protected by humanity if we are to survive long term as a species. Genuine appreciation in the form of making bee lives better and healthier is the best way to show them our love.
Here at Bee Mission we have a soft spot for bees, so this blog post is written with the bee in mind, whether solitary or honeybee. Every bee is precious.
We recently wrote a popular blog post about how the city of Utrecht in the Netherlands has created Bee Bus Stops, an ingenious and simple way to put luscious succulents and water on the roofs of bus stops so bees can nourish themselves and rest while buzzing around the city. This is an ideal example of how innovative thinking can tweak an already existing structure and find extra beneficial uses for it.
In Manhattan, Battery Park has 25 acres dedicated to pollinator gardens, a farm and the BeeVillage sanctuary, just across the harbor from the Statue of Liberty. The bees here enjoy pollinating many acres of nectar-producing flowers.
Toronto, Canada is a sprawling metro area known as a leading green city for its sustainability model. With over 300 bee species in the city, many of which are native wild bees, there has been an intent to go green for years. They do this through a Pollinator Protection Strategy which creates more pollinator habitats on public lands, and links green areas so pollinators can travel along these routes. They even provide locals with preferred planting lists for home gardens and mandate that certain buildings must set up green roof plantings that take the well being of pollinators into consideration.
This video about urban bees is just 2:46 minutes long.
While cities are usually considered disruptive to ecological wellbeing, perhaps since so many of us live in them, it is time to reconsider this view point. It may be time to expand urban agriculture more, for both human and bee consumption. This could be a win-win situation all around.
Entomologists the world over are noticing that bees prefer urban to rural settings. As bees move in and thrive in cities like Detroit and St. Louis, the human population has been steadily dropping over the past 50 years, in some cases up to 60%. This has created a lot more vacant land where wild flowers can grow that bees can enjoy.
Here are some things we can do in urban places to welcome pollinators, in addition to planting our own flower gardens. This goes beyond the personal and into the communal areas, like community gardens and neighborhoods with city parks.
Start a Seed Library – the libraries in some cities like DeLand, Florida, Ashville, North Carolina and Vancouver, British Columbia maintain local native wild flower seed banks at times. They offer their patrons seeds for their home gardens. While they needn’t return them for obvious reasons, they can donate seeds back so others can avail of this unique concept. It has been a big hit with residents.
Create Roadside Flower Beds – whether along city streets or along the highways that lead away from cities out into the farmland areas, planting wild flowers and popular trees will help keep bees moving around the area, from urban to rural and back again.
Plant Pollinator Gardens – this will draw in the native bees that do so much pollinating of our food crops. This can be a community project, initiated through the local community center, library or park management, but such a garden is mostly worked by volunteer residents and can become a great hub for the community to share, work side by side and get to know each other. These community gardens can produce a lot of cheap produce for the neighborhood and can even support local soup kitchens with left overs that don’t sell.
Retrain the Human Eye to See Beauty in The Wild – abandoned and vacant lots with weeds, loose soil and a diverse array of wildflowers are usually rich feeding grounds for local bees, but they may be eyesores to those who are conditioned to see beauty in the natural world only if it is in the form of ornamental gardens or lawns that have been manicured. The suburbs with their mono-lawns, dowsed in weed killers and void of anything besides perfect mowed grass, are less likely to be a big draw for wild bees than vacant city lots. Let there be clover, little wild daisies and other wild flowers in your grass.
There appears to be a new level of conscious awareness in many cities where instead of taking bees and pollination for granted, scientists and policy makers are doing research to actively try to better anticipate how they can welcome these vital creatures to make their home in the neighborhood. This trend is not just heartwarming but indicates a more rewarding ‘partnership’ between bees and flowers, flowers and bees, bees and humans, humans and bees.
Do you live in an urban area where bees are welcome and community gardening is thriving? We'd love to hear about it over on our Facebook page!