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City of Oslo creates ‘bee highway’

The Columbian
Published: July 2, 2015, 12:00am

The city of Oslo now has what it’s calling a bee highway — a path of flowering plants designed to keep bees well-fed as they pass through the urban area. Supporters hope that initiatives like this one can help protect bees — one-third of Norway’s native bee species are now endangered — and by extension protect the crops that rely on bees for pollination.

The idea is pretty simple: The Oslo Garden Society has placed flowerpots full of bee-friendly plants on roofs and balconies throughout the city, creating a route for bees to travel through without starving. A website shows locals where more flower coverage is needed and encourages them to plant more.

“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 paper in May. “Enough food will also help the bumblebees withstand man-made environmental stress better.”

Agence France-Presse reports that businesses have also joined in, with one accounting firm putting up around $50,000 to cover its terrace in flowering plants and enough beehives to house 45,000 bees.

The decline of the pollinating bee — and the potential causes of that decline, which could include fungi, pests, lack of food and pesticide use — is vigorously debated. But while the restriction of pesticides like neonicotinoids, which some believe have an adverse effect on honeybees, may not make sense without more evidence, planting flowers is a fix that’s hard to argue with.

Besides, research suggests that so-called “green spaces” in urban areas — ones with trees, grass, flowers, and animals — are beneficial to human health and wellness. So planting flowers for transient bees is really a win-win.

Those outside of Oslo can take advantage of a similar site with a global reach. The Pollinator Partnership encourages individuals to create bee-friendly environments on their property and add them to an online map: http://pollinator2.massiveimpacttechnology.com/ShareMap.aspx.

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