Bees in the capital city of Norway now have their own ‘highway’ thanks to a pioneering initiative by environmentalists protecting urban bees. Concerted efforts to sprout pollinator-friendly plants on rooftops, balconies and in gardens throughout Oslo give bees a safe space to proliferate without having to overcome pesticides and other human-caused curve balls that have decimated global bee populations. Headed by Bybi, the project has captured the attention of private individuals, businesses and various state bodies, who can map their section of highway on a dedicated webpage.
“We are constantly reshaping our environment to meet our needs, forgetting that other species also live in it,” head of the Bybi, Agnes Lyche Melvaer, tells Physorg. “To correct that we need to return places to them to live and feed,” she told the paper.
Participants are planted species known to attract bees and other pollinators, including sunflowers and marigolds. One company invested over $50,000 to cover part of its 12th floor terrace in a swanky part of town with sedum, and build two beehives which together create habitat for about 45,000 workers bees.
“One should see it as a sign that companies are also taking responsibility for preserving biodiversity,” said Marie Skjelbred, the accountant who convinced her firm to get involved in the project. Roughly one third of Norway’s bees are considered endangered, though they are less threatened than those in the United States and other countries, according to Physorg.
Not so fast, says Christian Steel from the Norwegian Biodiversity Network. While he applauds the initiative, he also claims it distracts from the government’s continued support for intensive agriculture and other practices responsible for killing off bees.
Agnes Lyche Melvaer is more optimistic. She believes the ‘butterfly effect’ will result in similar local and global initiatives to restore the health of pollinators whose daily work ensures we have food on the table. For now.