one green planet
one green planet

The bee situation has become a national and global concern. If you are unaware, in short, bee colonies are simply vanishing. This has major consequences, as bees are responsible for pollinating much of the fruit and vegetables we eat. Consequently, there is a massive movement to save the bees.

And, what do you know, it seems to be working, but perhaps in a most unlikely of locales: the city. According to a recent report by BBC News, studies have found that honeybees, bumblebees, and other pollinating insects are happily taking up residence in cities and towns, leaving their pastoral roots behind. This is fantastic news.

Are Cities the Secret to Saving Bees?Paul Stein/Flickr

Hope for Bees in an Urban Setting

One of the highly suspected (basically decided) culprits in the bees’ plight is modern agricultural techniques, including mono-cropping (the planting of one crop over large expanses of land) and the subsequent use of herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. Bees — a useful insect in the garden — have gotten tangled in the toxic mix, and that’s a big problem.

However, cities don’t operate the same way as massive industrial farms. Pots plants, garden beds and parks tend to have a variety of flowering vegetation. City allotments offer up a myriad of vegetables rather than acres and acres of one. This is much more appealing to bees because it means flowers are blooming all the time, whereas on modern farms one mass of crop blooms at the same time and, then, it’s over.

What’s more, with diversity, there is less (actually, let’s say no) need for dangerous pesticides, as pests (and diseases) tend to flock to the abundance they find on mono-cropped fields. Hence, as more rural land gives way to large-scale food production, cities and suburbia may be becoming safe havens for pollinators. There are now more kinds of wild bees in the suburbs than the agricultural countryside.

Doesn’t nature just find the most unlikely solutions!

Are Cities the Secret to Saving Bees?Spur/Flickr

Lending a Hand to Bees in Need

So, perhaps it’s time — right here at the cusp of spring —  for all city dwellers and suburbanites to join the cause, plant some flowers or fruit and veg out on the patio, around the balcony, in the yard and wherever else. The bees are coming! The bees are coming! And, we should definitely throw out the rose petals for them (not red ones, though).

There are many ways to turn that urban landscape into something inspiring and edible. Lots of people have taken to upcycling things like old bottles, barrels, tires, tin cans and burnt-out furnishings to make eclectic planters on their patios and balconies. And, it’s possible to grow a whole host of edibles in containers, including all the salad greens a family could want, as well as vegetables, small fruit-bearing trees, fresh herbs and medicinal flowers. Or, if there is a yard to play with, even better: Try out some easy, no-till beds to help transform grass into productive garden, and most of the resources – mulching material, nutrient-rich compostable materials and plants – are already available on site for free or nearby, also for little to nothing.

It just takes a bit of desire and know-how on our part, a few bees to pollinate and we are producing at least some of what we eat, right in the city. That is a very cool thing. Ironically, urbanization might just be the thing that saves the bees and, in turn, many of our favorite foods. We can all very easily be a part of it.

Image source: A Guy Taking Pitcures/Flickr