Scientists around the world have been sounding the alarm for years about the decline of bees and other pollinators that are crucial to the growth of crops. One place where this trend has been bucked is in Amsterdam. The diversity of wild bee and honeybee species in the Dutch capital has actually increased by 45% since 2000.
The city attributes this success to creating bee-friendly environments including the installation of so-called insect hotels. There has also been a ban on the use of chemical pesticides on public land.
Four years ago, Amsterdam set a goal to convert half of all public green spaces to native plants including species that produce flowers and fruits that provide nourishment for bees. Developers in Amsterdam are encouraged to install green roofs on new buildings which reduce reliance on heating and cooling systems and also create habitat for wildlife.
Residents can request to have a 16-inch strip of pavement adjacent to their homes removed in order to plant shrubs, flowers or climbing vines. When a new highway was built in the area in 2015, local activists planted wildflowers along the sides of the road that otherwise would have been left with only gravel or grass. This practice has spread to other major routes and along dikes and railways and is referred to as the Honey Highway.
All of these efforts seem to be having a positive effect. An initial survey was conducted in 2000 to establish a baseline. A 2015 survey of pollinators found 21 bee species not previously documented in the city. The rest of the Netherlands has not done as well, and the Dutch government has recently introduced a pollinator strategy to revive bees, butterflies and other insects crucial to the country’s food crop.
Bees are dying at an alarming rate. Amsterdam may have the answer.
Photo, posted December 28, 2006, courtesy of Flickr.
Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
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