This City Turned Its Bus Stops Into “Bee Stops” to Protect Bees and Reduce Pollution
By Elias Marat
The Dutch city of Utrecht has taken a unique approach to managing its air quality by installing green roofs filled with flowers and plants on top of its bus stops.
The move will not only help Utrecht achieve its ambition of becoming a truly sustainable green city prepared for the challenges of climate change, but it will also provide small sanctuaries for bees across roadways in the bustling urban space.
According to EcoWatch, bees have already found their home atop the municipal city bus shelters and are attracted more to the flora than to commuters. While some residents mistake the pollinators for the far more aggressive yellow-jackets or wasps, the bees have posed no danger to bus riders.
The “bee stop” concept is a novel approach to the ecological challenges faced by city planners who have found an effective tool in helping to capture the fine dust and particulate matter that plagues city streets where dirt, soot, and smoke accompany traffic.
The bee stops will also help to store rainwater and cool city blocks during the hotter summer months.
The municipality of Utrecht is offering subsidies to those who are able to turn their old roofs, including those filled with asbestos, into environmentally-friendly green roofs and ones combining greenery with solar panels. The campaign is one of many meant to ensure “a healthy and livable city,” according to the Utrecht city website.
Utrecht has also recently replaced 10 of its polluting diesel buses with a far cleaner fleet of electric buses, cutting the city’s CO2 emissions by about 900 tons per year. The buses are able to feed their stored electricity back into the grid during peak hours. The city hopes to exclusively operate CO2 neutral buses by 2028.
Meanwhile, the Dutch capital Amsterdam has taken similar steps to extend green spaces across public land, with chemical pesticides facing bans and beds for native plants proliferating across the city. The move is in line with the “nature-inclusive” ideology that is key to city planners’ design approach.
According to an NBC report, while bee populations have precipitously dropped across Europe and the U.S., Amsterdam has become a thriving center for wild bee and honeybee species, which have increased by 45 percent from 2000 to 2018. The number includes 21 different varieties of bee that were previously not documented in the city.
The city has also invested $38.5 million into a sustainability fund aiming to improve the environment for bees and other insects, with “insect hotels” catering to bees being installed across the city.
Geert Timmermans, one of eight ecologists working for the city, told NBC News:
Insects are very important because they’re the start of the food chain.
When it goes well with the insects, it also goes well with the birds and mammals.
Our strategy is to when we design a park, we use native species but also the species that give a lot of flowering and fruit for (bees).
(Citizens) acknowledge the importance of the natural environment. It’s part of the culture.