Dutch Bees Are Making a Comeback
In an attempt to help the bee population rebuild in the Netherlands, Dutch cities have started sewing the seeds for their recovery. The populous of the Netherlands have begun to take steps to make their homes and gardens more hospitable for our buzzing friends. It looks like those efforts are finally starting to pay off. So what have they done to bring these Dutch bees back from the brink?
What Happened to the Bees?
The bee population in the Netherlands has been on a steady decline since the 1940s. Sadly, it is believed that the reason for their disappearance is thought to be connected to the agricultural areas. This is due to changes in demand from the public, with day-to-day living having a detrimental impact on the natural bee working grounds. There are 58 known bee species in the Netherlands, with over half of these species now endangered.
As the demand for farm products has grown, the once lush fields of wildflowers have been stripped bare to be used for crops. This means these once rich bee habitats that had sustained the populous for so long became bee wastelands. With no pollen to spread, bees became thin on the ground in the wide-open, flower-less green areas of the country. The lack of flowers in the agricultural sector was only part of the problem, however, as harmful pesticides were poising the few flowers available.
The Netherlands’ Efforts to Help Bees
Small scale conservation projects have begun to take place across the country to encourage Bees to repopulate in the cities. Several techniques have been used throughout Dutch cities to try and bring bees back to the more populated areas and away from the poisoned fields.
Utrecht triggered the beekeeping movement back in 2019. With the city transforming over 300 bus stop into bee havens known as “bee stops”. This was done by changing the roof of a bus stop into a grassy space filled with wildflowers. The types of wildflowers used on these “bee stops” are extremely popular with pollinators, and fortunately do not need much tending. To help keep these healthy, there are specific teams that help to care for these small gardens. With each team travelling in Eco-friendly electric cars to really drive the message of environmental awareness home.
In the city’s attempt to improve on the problem of urban diversity, Utrecht have also developed a scheme similar to that of the bee stops. This scheme gives citizens the chance to apply for funding that will allow them to turn their own roof into a bee sanctuary.
Additionally, other large cities in the Netherlands are employing the use of Bee hotels and “honey highways” to increase bee activity in the busier areas of the country. This will also allow bees to be monitored more easily than if they were spread throughout the countryside. They have also started to plant wildflowers on grass verges and in open unused spaces to provide the bees with more eclectic pollination choices.
The Nationwide Bee Survey
Koos Biesmeijer, head of a biodiversity charity known as Naturalis, created a survey in April 2021, to allow the charity to monitor the bee population. The survey included 11,000 eager volunteers, and a half-hour of their time. Each volunteer was provided with a list, showing them the most common bees to expect to see at that time of year. The volunteers then had to sit in their gardens and count how many of each species they saw visiting their garden.
By April 18th 2021, when all surveys were turned in for analysis, they found that over 200,000 bees and hoverflies had been seen. This census allowed Naturalis to get an idea of the urban bee population. And, with regular surveying over the space of 5 years, they hope to collect enough data to give them a more accurate idea of the state of the bee population.
The results of the latest census were extremely encouraging. With Vincent Kalkman, an entomologist at Naturalis, explaining to the press that an average of 18-20 bees and hoverflies recorded in each garden in the timeframe given. Several surveys have taken place previously, which were showing a decrease in the bee population. However, the latest survey shows that the rate at which the bees were disappearing has slowed considerably. And may even be holding steady in population numbers. Instead, this may be the turning point to bring bees back from the brink