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Norway is creating a ‘bee highway’ to protect pollinators

Bees are threatened all over the world, and planting flowers is one easy way to help them. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

The city of Oslo now has what it's calling a bee highway — a path of flowering plants designed to keep bees well-fed as they pass through the urban area. Supporters hope that initiatives like this one can help protect bees — one third of Norway's native bee species are now endangered — and by extension protect the crops that rely on bees for pollination.

The idea is pretty simple: The Oslo Garden Society has placed flowerpots full of bee-friendly plants on roofs and balconies throughout the city, creating a route for bees to travel through without starving. A Web site shows locals where more flower coverage is needed and encourages them to plant more.

[Graphic: We all get stung by bee colony collapse]

“The idea is to create a route through the city with enough feeding stations for the bumblebees all the way,” Tonje Waaktaar Gamst of the Oslo Garden Society told a local paper in May. “Enough food will also help the bumblebees withstand man-made environmental stress better.”

Agence France-Presse reports that businesses have also joined in, with one accounting firm putting up around $50,000 to cover its terrace in flowering plants and enough beehives to house 45,000 bees.

[Why you shouldn’t freak out about swarming honeybees — and how to save bees from those who do]

The decline of the pollinating bee — and the potential causes of that decline, which could include fungi, pests, lack of food and pesticide use — is a subject of much debate. But while the restriction of pesticides like neonicotinoids, which some believe have an adverse effect on honeybees, may not make sense without more evidence, planting flowers is a fix that's hard to argue with.

Besides, research suggests that so-called “green spaces” in urban areas — ones with trees, grass, flowers, and animals — are beneficial to human health and wellness. So planting flowers for transient bees is really a win-win.

Those outside of Oslo can take advantage of a similar site with a global reach. The Pollinator Partnership encourages individuals to create bee-friendly environments on their property and add them to an online map.

Read More:

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New studies find that bees actually want to eat the pesticides that hurt them

How the White House plans to help the humble bee maintain its buzz