I almost didn’t do a Saturday Surprise again this week, for as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been unable to corral my mind and it just wasn’t working. But then, I was going through some notes I had of saved topics and realized I could do Saturday Surprise on a topic I’ve been wanting to do for a while, just never found time … BEES! Don’t worry … I promise you won’t get stung!
Now, we all know that the bee population in the U.S. and globally has been declining for years. Most of the reasons are attributable to humans … loss of habitat and bee-killing pesticides being two of the main causes. And, all living creatures depend on bees for food … one-third of all our food depends on bee pollination, so those little guys are pretty important!
Since this is a Saturday Surprise post, one of the rules is ‘no politics’, so I won’t mention what some governments are doing to exacerbate the decline of the bee population, but instead will focus on some of the good things people are doing to try to save the bees! Rather a hybrid of Saturday Surprise and Good People!
Let’s start with a trip to the Netherlands, the city of Utrecht, to be specific. This city has transformed all 316 of its bus stops into bee sanctuaries. The Netherlands is home to 358 different bee species but more than half of them are already endangered and have been placed on the Dutch Red List of threatened species.These bee sanctuaries or rather ‘bee stops’ are essentially standard bus stops with grass and wildflowers planted on the roofs to encourage pollination. Not only do bee stops support the city’s biodiversity by attracting honey bees and bumblebees, they also help capture fine dust and store rainwater.
Bee stops are tended to by workers who drive around the city in electric vehicles. But the scheme requires little maintenance because the roofs are mainly composed of sedum plants, which are a favourite among pollinators and require very little water to survive. To improve facilities for the human visitors, the bus stops have also been fitted with energy-efficient LED lights and bamboo benches.This is just one of the many measures Utrecht has introduced to improve urban biodiversity. It also runs a similar scheme which allows residents to apply for funding to transform their own roofs into bee sanctuaries. And as part of its clean transport goals, the aim is to introduce 55 new electric buses by the end of the year and to have “completely clean public transport” by 2028. The electricity used to power these buses will come from one of the Netherland’s most iconic attractions: windmills.
Now THAT’S what I call an environmentally conscious city! And one of the most bee-friendly I know of.
You all know actor Morgan Freeman from such movies as Driving Miss Daisy, The Shawshank Redemption and others, but I bet you didn’t know that he owns a 124-acre ranch in Mississippi that he has turned into a bee sanctuary! Freeman’s foray into beekeeping began in 2014, where he discussed his new hobby with Jimmy Fallon during The Tonight Show. Freeman had taken up beekeeping just a couple of weeks before appearing on the show and talked about his experience keeping bees and the need to preserve and save wild bees for healthy environments.
Freeman imported 26 bee hives from Arkansas to his ranch in Mississippi. There, Freeman works to feed the bees sugar and water and has help planting bee-friendly magnolia trees, lavender, clover, etc.
“There is a concerted effort for bringing bees back onto the planet…We do not realize that they are the foundation, I think, of the growth of the planet, the vegetation…”
Two thumbs up to Morgan Freeman … and a sincere ‘thank you’ from all of us who care about the future of life on this planet.
Ever hear of the National Pollinator Garden Network? Neither had I until a few hours ago. What is it?
The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) is a partnership between conservation organizations, gardening groups, volunteer civic associations and participating federal agencies to inspire people and organizations to create more pollinator habitats. The nine founding organizations launched NPGN in June 2015.
The focus of the NPGN is: to inspire individuals and community groups, institutions and the garden industry to create more pollinator habitat through sustainable gardening practices, habitat conservation and provide these groups the tools to be successful.
The organization launched an initiative called the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, in hopes of getting one million organizations and individuals to plant and maintain ‘pollinator gardens’, consisting of pollinator-friendly plants and wild grasses that are both native and non-invasive species. Well, they now have more than met their goal with 1,040,000 as of last February.
Since the campaign launched, many gardening centers have also contributed to the challenge by offering more pollinator-friendly plants, services, and education.
Increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes will help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators across the country.
Be sure to check out their website … if you have a garden and can take part, this is certainly a worthy venture to join! We plant bee-friendly flowers in our tiny 2’ x 4’ postage-stamp ‘garden’ and have for years, but I haven’t got quite enough space to make much of a difference.
It’s encouraging to know that people are becoming more aware of just how crucial the bee population is to life … all life … on earth and are doing something about it, don’t you think? And now, since I always try to end Saturday Surprise with a cute animal video, I thought this one would be appropriate today!
Have a bee-ootiful weekend, my friends!