While it may seem like a cute story, the world’s bee population is a pressing issue. World bee populations are declining at a rapid pace which has huge knock-on effects for commercial farming. Without bees crops don’t get pollinated and food doesn’t grow. As the world’s population expands and needs to be fed, bee populations are becoming the weak link in the food chain.
In Norway, they’re taking the threat seriously, as the city of Oslo announced the world’s first ‘bumble bee highway’ on Wednesday. The highway is a corridor through the city’s pollen stations every 700 feet.
“The idea is to create a route through the city with enough feeding stations for the bumblebees all the way,” Tonje Waaktaar Gamst of the Oslo Garden Society told a local newspaper. ”Enough food will also help the bumblebees withstand man made environmental stress better.”
Bumblebees and other pollinating insects do not fair well in urban environments because there are few flowers rich in nectar, which means they starve.
To encourage a healthy bee population, Gams and his team placed flowerpots on rooftops and balconies along a route from east to west through the city, paving a path for the bees.
During the last few years, similar to the United States, many bee colonies have been dying out, causing damage to critical agriculture that depends on the insects.
While Norway hasn’t been as hard hit as the US, six out of 35 Norwegian bumblebee species are on the verge of extinction.
The Oslo effort combines city managers, environmental organizations, the public, and and companies, who are helping to plant bumblebee friendly flowers on their property.
To help the insects clearly find the path, they’ve formed an organization called BiBy (Bee Town) which launched an app that shows the public “grey areas”, which are long stretches with no food for bees, to encourage planting flowers in areas where food sources are low.
“It will be easy to see barriers and obstacles on the map. The goal is to inspire people to fill these gaps.” said Agnes Lyche Melvær of BiBy.
The Norwegian model could serve as a template for other cities, particularly in the United States, to encourage bee population growth.