'Bee stops' and 'honey highways' could help bees in urban areas

·2-min read
According to figures from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one in ten European bee and butterfly species is threatened with extinction.

"Honey trails," bee hotels, bee stops... In Europe, citizen and municipal initiatives to protect bees are flourishing, whether designed to provide them with food or shelter.

According to figure s from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, one in ten European bee and butterfly species is threatened with extinction. According to the UN , 75% of the world's food production depends on pollinating insects. Aware of the crucial importance of the survival of bees for ecosystems and the pollination of food crops, more and more countries are installing infrastructures within their cities to provide a refuge for these foraging insects.

This is especially true in the Netherlands, which launched a nationwide program in 2018 that includes 70 initiatives to create more bee refuges and strengthen their food supply. The city of Amsterdam, for example, has installed "bee hotels," made from a collection of hollow plant stems or thin bamboo with cavities in which solitary bees can nest. The Dutch capital is also committed to replacing grass in public spaces with native flowering plants and to stop using pesticides in public gardens.

Also in the Netherlands, (this time in Utrecht this), one can also find "bee stops," which are bus stops with wild plants on the roof -- intended to both attract bees and absorb dust particles and rainwater. Since 2018, 316 bee stops have been installed.

Another concept has been gaining momentum in recent years: "bee highways." The initiative was born in 2015 in the Norwegian capital, Oslo. The principle of these roads, imagined by Agnès Lyche Melvaer and set up by the association Bybi, is to create long corridors through the cities dotted with melliferous plants (lavender, thyme, dandelion, etc.), so that bees can trace their route while foraging from flower to flower.

These vegetated alleys, which when seen from the sky look like highways, have since spread far beyond the borders of Norway. The idea has seduced France, where there are also highways for bees literally located near roads: in 2015, the company Vinci Autoroutes installed hives along the road to Forges-les-Bains (Essonne). Since then, a hundred hives have been placed on several highways in France.

Léa Drouelle