Bee Powerline Habitat – Native Bees
Music; Ambience: bees in meadow
JM: Honeybees are in trouble. It’s native bees to the rescue, with a little help from their friends. I’m Jim Metzner and this is Pulse of the Planet. The honeybee is actually just one of many species of bee out there. It was brought over from Europe during the colonial era, and it’s being used by bee keepers and farmers to pollinate crops. But Dr. Kimberly Russell, a scientist with the American Museum of Natural History, says that because of disease and pesticide use, honeybee numbers are falling.
KR: “There’s something that they refer to as the ‘pollination crisis.’ meaning that there are native species of plant and crop species that don’t produce as much fruit as they should because they’re not being visited by bees enough.”
JM: Enter the rest of the bee population, the so-called “native bees.”
KR: “And one of the reasons why people are studying native bees now is they’re worried that we’re not going to be able to rely on European honeybees anymore to pollinate our crops. And so we need to find another way, to avert sort of agricultural disaster. And so, we need to find ways, really, to buffer us against that impact.”
JM: Dr. Russell is heading an effort to help sustain native bee populations by turning the huge stretches of land beneath North American power lines into bee-friendly habitats.
KR: “What you have on these power line sites in actuality is you have a mixture of the scrubby dense vegetation areas with a little bit of grassland on each side, because they tend to have to have access paths. And so you have a much more sort of diversity of nesting choices for bees. In addition to that, you also have a diversity of flowering species which serve as the food source for the bees. Often, in this scrub habitat, you have something flowering all spring and summer long.”
JM: Russell and her colleagues hope that by encouraging power companies to create this bee-friendly habitats beneath power lines, we could ensure healthy native bee populations, and thus fruit and vegetable bounty for us all. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation.