How Pollinators Fight Warming Cities

Researchers are starting to understand how urban bee populations can support healthy green spaces and reduce the urban heat island effect.

1 minute read

October 11, 2022, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Garden with bee houses labeled 'bee hotel' and scarecrow

LeaDigszammal / Bee 'hotel' in a garden.

Writing for Wired, Matt Simon emphasizes the importance of bees in urban ecosystems. “Bees are critical actors in a burgeoning scientific field known as rurbanization, a way to improve food security and beautify urban landscapes.”

A group of researchers in St. Louis is working to identify the bee species that pollinate local plants and how to attract and protect the bees. “For example, bees don’t like big, open spaces. They appreciate vegetal cover—places to hide from predators like dragonflies that are waiting to pick them off.” Bees also thrive when patches of plain soil are present, something that might seem counterintuitive or aesthetically displeasing to gardeners.

Supporting urban bee populations isn’t just about aesthetics or having flowers or fresh herbs, Simon points out. “A community garden ‘sweats,’ as plants release water vapor, cooling the neighborhood—and if you’re in the garden itself, you can enjoy its shade.” Urban green spaces can help mitigate the urban heat island effect and reduce temperatures in cities. “The researchers hope their surveillance project will spur research in other cities so scientists can figure out how to nurture the relationship between pollinators and people.”

Monday, October 10, 2022 in Wired

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