Future of the Environment

These bus stops are a sanctuary for bees

A bee is seen on the frame of a hive in a village of Ripanj near Belgrade, Serbia, April 9, 2019. Picture taken April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Marko Djurica - RC1B4F0C1ED0

What's the buzz? Image: REUTERS/Marko Djurica

Sophie Hirsh
Writer, Green Matters
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Waiting for the bus is typically pretty uneventful — unless you live in one Dutch city.

Utrecht, a city in Holland, the Netherlands, recently gave makeovers to 316 bus stops, outfitting them with "green roofs," The Independent reports. The roofs are covered with sedum flowers and other plants, which act as an oasis for bees. Plus, the added greenery has a slew of other positive environmental effects.

As explained by BrightVibes, the plants will also help absorb rainwater, capture dust or pollutants from the air, and regulate temperatures. Not to mention, adding plants in urban spaces has plenty of other benefits, including: reducing noise pollution, reducing stress, increasing biodiversity, beautifying the city, absorbing carbon, and improving air quality.

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In addition to the green roofs, the bus stops also feature bamboo benches and LED lights, which are much more efficient than fluorescent and incandescent lights. And to keep the maintenance of the green bus stops as eco-friendly as possible, Utrecht's municipal employees who service the bus stops travel from station to station using electric vehicles.

Image: BrightVibes

If Utrecht citizens find themselves inspired when waiting for their daily bus ride, the city is encouraging residents to install green roofs on their houses. In fact, Utrecht residents can actually apply for a subsidy to cover the costs of planting greenery on their roofs, according to BrightVibes.

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As pollinators, bees play a very important role on Earth, namely in terms of food production for humans. According to the USDA, bee pollination assists in producing one out of every three bites of food we take in the U.S. Many foods we regularly enjoy would not be possible without bees. According to the NRDC, 42 percent of U.S. bee colonies collapsed in 2015, putting our nation's food supply in jeopardy.

But over the past few years, there have been a few other local projects to protect bees around the world.

For example, in 2010, a German couple began installing bee hives on buildings around Berlin, with the goal of helping bees, as well as creating awareness for the importance of protecting pollinator insects.

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And also in the Netherlands, designer Matilde Boelhouwer recently invented self-sustaining artificial flowers, designed to feed insect pollinators including bees and butterflies. She aims to eventually install the flowers around various cities, and she told Green Matters that the flowers do not need maintenance, and that they'll continue sustaining themselves for about 10 years.

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If you have a garden at your home, there are plenty of ways to use your outdoor space to help bees and other pollinators. For example, you can plant flowers that will attract bees, such as alyssum, echinacea, geranium, and clover, preferably in bright colors like blue, purple, and yellow, according to Gardeners Supply Company. You can also stop weeding your garden and mowing your lawn. As explained by the New York Bee Sanctuary, dandelions and other weeds are great food sources for bees.

Hopefully other cities follow in Utrecht's footsteps and plant green roofs on their bus stops in the near future.

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Related topics:
Future of the EnvironmentCities and UrbanizationNature and Biodiversity
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