Planting "Bee Roads" to Save Pollinators (Video)


Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

Wildlife corridors are an important part of allowing animals to move freely among ranges and slow the impact of human encroachment on habitats. By connecting wild spaces and allowing animals to move from one area to another, animals are protected (at least to some degree) from run-ins with cars, the failure of isolated populations, or shortages of food supplies. It works for larger animals, so why wouldn't the same be true for insects? Plan Bee is an idea for creating a wildflower corridor for pollinators like honey bees. The Guardian reports that Co-Operative has announced a new plan for installing bee roads, starting in Yorkshire and spreading across the county, as an effort to slow the alarming decline of bee populations.

Co-Operative writes, "As part of its extended £750,000 Plan Bee campaign, The Co-operative will help identify and convert corridors of land to create and secure habitats for pollinators. By encouraging and supporting landowners to create wildflower meadows, the Bee Roads will promote species such as Lesser Knapweed, Field Scabious, Birdsfoot Trefoil and Red Clover, which are becoming increasingly rare in the British countryside. These wildflowers will offer a rich habitat for a host of pollinators such as honeybees, hoverflies, butterflies and moths to find the nectar and pollen they need."

Because bees are responsible for pollinating about 1/3 of the of food crops, and because the UK has lost about 97% of its wildflower meadows in the last 80 years, the advocates believe that bringing back some of those wild spaces and allowing insects a pathway through developed areas will help keep pollinator populations strong and offset colony collapses.

A similar idea is already underway in the US, with former coal mines being converted into a stretch of bee-friendly safe spots with hopes that the wild space will strengthen pollinator populations -- not only of bees but of butterflies and many other insect species.

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Tags: Ecology | Insects

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