“Bee population steady in Dutch cities thanks to pollinator strategy”
by Anne Pinto-Rodrigues
The Guardian, April 27, 2021
Netherlands’ urban bee census results are out! And it’s good news!
Here’s a pitch for your consideration. The Netherlands Bee Census was conducted over the weekend with nearly 11,000 volunteers across the country spending 30 mins in their gardens / neighbourhoods to count bees. The results were finalized on Monday (18th April) evening. As per the organizers of the bee census, there has been an overall increase in the number of bees counted – 200,000+ in 2021 versus 130,000 in 2020. The honey bee was the most counted bee, followed by the red mason bee and the earth bumble bee.
This increase in bee numbers can be attributed to several factors:
1) The national Pollinator Strategy was announced in 2018 which focuses on ‘bed and breakfast for bees‘ – providing more nesting sites for bees and increasing their food supply. The Netherlands is the second largest food exporter in the world (after the US), with bees playing an essential role in the pollination of agricultural crops. Over half of the nearly 360 bee species in the country are endangered. Recognizing the importance of bees in pollinating crops, the national Pollinator Strategy was launched.
2) The city of Amsterdam has implemented various initiatives to bring bees back, including putting-up bee hotels (a collection of hollow plant stems or thin bamboo that provides cavities for solitary bees to nest), replacing grass in public spaces with native flowering plants, and stopping the use of pesticides on public lands. City authorities claim a 45% increase in the local bee population since they began their efforts in the year 2000.
3) The city of Utrecht launched bee-stops in 2018 – bus-stops with their roofs covered in native plants – which not only absorb dust particles and rain water but also attract bees. It is the first city in the world to undertake this initiative, with 316 bus-stops converted to bee stops.
4) At the grassroot-level, Dutch woman Deborah Post launched Honey Highway, an entrepreneurial venture to transform the space available on the sides of highways, railways, and waterways, into a sea of wild flowers that provide food and shelter to bees. To-date, she has collaborated with several municipalities to make this happen.
For this piece, I plan to speak with the bee experts associated with the census as well as ecologists from the Municipalities of Amsterdam and Utrecht, and Deborah Post – the founder of Honey Highway.
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