What do bees and bus stops have to do with each other you ask? Well, continue reading to find out! As the world’s bee populations continue to decline, Utrecht-a city in Holland-has taken steps to welcome these pollinators. Waiting for the bus is typically uneventful, unless you live here. By fitting out over 300 bus stops with “green roofs”, this Dutch city is providing new solutions for eco-friendly urban areas (Neringa Utaraitė, 2019). They’re paving the way for sustainable cities around the world.
WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT GREEN ROOFS?
The roofs of these vibrant bus stops are covered with sedum flowers and other plants, which require little maintenance but are fantastic at attracting bees (Jessica Stewart, 2019). The added greenery has many other positive environmental effects. These include helping to absorb rainwater, taking in carbon, regulating temperatures and improving air quality (Sophie Hirsh, 2019).
In addition to green roofs, the bus stops have bamboo benches and energy-efficient LED lights (Luana Steffen, 2019). To top it all off, even the maintenance of the green bus stops is as eco-friendly as possible. Utrecht’s municipal employees who service the bus stops travel from station to station using electric vehicles (Sophie Hirsh, 2019). If citizens feel inspired when waiting for their bus, the city is providing funding to those who wish to transform their roofs into green roofs (Jessica Stewart, 2019). This ingenious solution to urban beekeeping is in response to the dwindling number of bees in Holland, and across the globe. It also proves that there is an all-round sustainable and effective way to use urban space to combat climate change.
WHY ARE BEES IMPORTANT?
The Netherlands is home to 358 different bee species with more than half already endangered (Sasha Brady, 2019) . As pollinators, bees play an essential role in plant reproduction. They are responsible for pollinating about one-sixth of the flowering plant species worldwide and approximately 400 different agricultural plants (Jessica Tucker, 2019). Hence, it is estimated that one-third of the world’s food produced would no longer be available without bees (Sophie Hirsh, 2019). Bees not only play a major role in human food production, but also promote floral growth and provide attractive habitats for other animals (Jessica Tucker, 2019). That is why bus stops for bees are a great way to increase organism biodiversity in urban areas.
OTHER SUSTAINABLE MEASURES
The green bus stops aren’t the only thing Utrecht is doing to support the environment and fight climate change. In 2010, they introduced 55 electric buses into their fleet, and have pledged to use only carbon-neutral transport by 2028 (Luana Steffen, 2019). The province also invests heavily in repairing their cycling paths. They’ve even started installing solar panels along these paths to harvest energy (Jessica Stewart, 2019). Other cities can take inspiration from these examples, and look at how they can balance their own urban environments.
HOW YOU CAN HELP THE BEES
Utrecht’s green roofs provide a positive example for other urban centres to start thinking about innovative environmental solutions. Hopefully, other cities will follow in their footsteps and start similar sustainable initiatives. If you have a garden at home, there are plenty of ways to use your outdoor space to help bees and other pollinators. For example, you can plant brightly coloured flowers or native flowering plants that will attract bees. Even if you don’t have a backyard, a well lit window sill can be the perfect spot of a pot of flowers. THRIVEable cities start with thriving, sustainable communities, which you can be a part of!
Visit THRIVE to learn more about what we can do to build a sustainable future!