Erin Blakemore (@heroinebook) is an author and historian. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including mental_floss, NPR’s This I Believe, The Onion, Popular Science, Modern Farmer and JSTOR Daily. This piece appears in The Smithsonian Magazine.
Pollinators play a critical role in supporting food production. About three-quarters of all native plants globally require pollination. We can credit pollinators – generally honey bees – with one of every three bites of food we take. For a variety of reasons, including the destruction of habitat, pollinators are in a precipitous decline in the United States and worldwide. And the loss of pollinators represents a serious threat to global food security. The White House has recently released a national strategy to save pollinators. And in the country of Norway, the city of Oslo has struck on a novel solution: it is creating a “bee highway” that will provide habitat and help protect the increasingly embattled pollinators.
The “highway” will create a “bee-friendly corridor that encourages places where bees like to both live and feed.” The corridor will contain“feeding stations” on rooftops and balconies, each “filled with marigolds, sunflowers and other flowers beloved by bees are being planted to “give the insects safe passage through the city.”” The effort pools public and private resources.
By building bee havens on rooftops and balconies, writes The Local, Oslo hopes to direct bee traffic from east to west, giving them nectar-rich feeding sources to help offset the stresses of urban life. The plan is being spearheaded by BiBy, an urban bee conservation group that has also set up an online map showing Oslo residents where more plants are needed.
Stay tuned. If this works, look for more cities to follow in Oslo’s footsteps.