Bee Bus Spots

A living roof in Cardiff planted with pollinator friendly plants. Photograph: Clear Channel

Phoebe Weston brightens our day with this story:

Planting at one of 30 bee bus stops in Leicester. Photograph: Clear Channel

Buzz stops: bus shelter roofs turned into gardens for bees and butterflies

Bee bus stops first appeared in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Now the UK is planning for more than 1,000 and there is growing interest across Europe and in Canada and Australia

Butterflies and bees are getting their own transport network as “bee bus stops” start to pop up around UK cities and across Europe. Humble bus shelter roofs are being turned into riots of colour, with the number of miniature gardens – full of pollinator-friendly flora such as wild strawberries, poppies and pansies – set to increase by 50% in the UK by the end of this year.

Leicester is leading the charge with 30 bee bus stops installed since 2021. Derby has 18, and there are others in Southhampton, Newcastle, Sunderland, Derby, Oxford, Cardiff and Glasgow. Brighton council installed one last year after a petition was signed by almost 50,000 people.

“We want to do it in as many cities in the UK as possible,” said Louise Stubbings, creative director at Clear Channel UK, which manages 30,000 commercial shelters on behalf of councils. The average bus shelter has a shelf life of at least 20 years. Ones with living roofs have to be specially designed because the soil is so heavy, especially when it is full of water, and Clear Channel is installing them only where shelters need replacing.

“We don’t want to rip perfectly good shelters out of the ground to put a new one in. You have to be really considered and mindful with planning these things and making sure the good they’re providing really is good,” said Stubbings. The company declined to say how much bee bus stops cost compared with normal shelters.

Clear Channel aims to create at least 1,000 bee bus stops in the UK, hopefully more. They are already established in the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden, and the company is building them in France and Belgium later this year, with inquiries coming from as far afield as Canada and Australia.

“We want to roll this out to as many countries as possible. We see this as a long-term, scalable addition to our bus shelters. We’d like to do them everywhere, the positive effects are incredible,” said Stubbings.

Clear Channel is working with the Wildlife Trusts to maximise the benefit to wildlife. Native flowers such as kidney vetch, thyme, selfheal and wild marjoram have been chosen to attract a range of pollinators including common carder bees, buff-tailed bumblebees, peacock butterflies, small tortoiseshell butterflies and chequered hoverflies. As well as the wildlife benefits, the roofs also absorb rainwater, and make a small contribution to offsetting the urban heat island effect…

Read the whole story here.

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