The Great Bee Highway

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Bee-v2The city of Oslo has teamed up with ByBi, an environmental group promoting urban bees. They are creating the first ever “bee highway” throughout Norway’s capital. The project offers bees a friendly route through the city and will feature feeding and nesting stations.

The feeding stations are green spaces that are typically planted with sunflowers, marigolds and other high nectar producing flowers  popular with the local bee population. ByBi is  also creating nesting and rest areas throughout Oslo.

The majority of bees have particular requirements for nesting material, such as exposed soil or soften snags of a dead tree that is still standing. The wood is dense but has been softened by decomposers, which makes it easier for insects to excavate. The project uses these materials to give bees a natural environment within the city.

 

ByBi programming

 

This initiative is mobilizing multiple private and public sectors throughout Oslo. ByBi is working with the private sector to ensure business rooftops and terraces are as bee-friendly as can be. This includes introducing new hives and planting pollen-producing plants on rooftops.

ByBi is ensuring that Oslo has a natural infrastructure.  This is a highly collaborative initiative that includes local business, schools, and individual Oslo residents.  ByBi has been doing successful school outreach programs, which include facilitators working with teachers and school children to plant nector-rich flora. This is also helping children become more informed about pollinators and acclimatize them to bees, which often have a scary reputation.

The organization has set up an interactive website. Oslo locals are able to log in and organize their gardening and landscaping contributions as well as track bee development. The ByBi has also organized an online map that highlights within the city where more bee friendly spaces are required.  One of the current issues about monitoring the bee decline is the lack of consistent data. The website will allow residents to help track bee populations ByBi can then triangulate the local information with national and international bee studies in order to ensure more accurate data.

 

Global Bee Decline

 

A picture taken on June 11, 2015 shows accounting expert and amateur beekeeper Marie Skjelbred presenting her beehive on the 12th floor of a modern building in Oslo. Oslo mobilizes to create the first "bee highway" in the world to protect these essential but threatened pollinators.  AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-HENRY DESHAYES

A picture taken on June 11, 2015 shows accounting expert and amateur beekeeper Marie Skjelbred presenting her beehive on the 12th floor of a modern building in Oslo. Oslo mobilizes to create the first “bee highway” in the world to protect these essential but threatened pollinators. AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-HENRY DESHAYES

Wild bees and managed honeybee populations are decreasing at alarming rates. Europe and North America have seen the highest level of bee decline.  Bees play a crucial and underrated role in local agriculture production. Their increasing decline will have detrimental effects on global food production.

Currently, bee populations help supply thirty-five percent of the world’s food production. It is estimated that natural pollination equates to $291 billion in labour annually.  More importantly, we currently do not have the technology to replace the work that bees do. Wild habitats rely heavily on natural pollinators, and approximately 90% of wild plants require pollination to reproduce.

The decline of bees has been attributed to two major sources: modern agriculture and colony collapse disorder. In many places, scientists warn that the decline has been so rapid that the bee population can no longer survive without human intervention.

For more information, see an article from the Guardian here, or check out Bybi’s website here (Norwegian).

 

 

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Ellen Parsons

Ellen Parsons

Ellen is student researcher hailing from Edmonton, Alberta.

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