Helping Pollinators Thrive in a Greener Urban Ecosystem

Sourced from Urban Land Magazine

Many vibrant urban green spaces, particularly plants with flower or fruit, can’t survive without pollinators. The Best Bees Company, based in Boston, is looking to help building owners find space to create sustainable ecosystems for green roofs, street trees, and other urban greenery.

The company’s founder, Noah Wilson-Rich, a behavioral ecologist whose PhD focused on disease resistance in bees and wasps, realized that—counterintuitively—honeybees in urban areas were doing better than those in rural areas.

Rural areas, and particularly farmland, usually have higher levels of pesticide use than cities. Agriculture also often provides a monoculture around a single crop for bees to feed on, while cities provide more variety in wild and managed flowers, trees, and shrubs. The Best Bees Company provides and maintains honeybee hives and pollinator habitats for property owners.

The company manages 1,000 hives on decks, lawns, and rooftops of all types of buildings in 18 states, from residential to office to hotels. They especially like rooftops, Wilson-Rich says.

“Rooftops are an underutilized asset. [Bees are] a way to utilize that asset in a way that really helps the environment,” he says.

Best Bees even has hives seasonally at Boston’s Fenway Park, on a previously underused roof deck behind the third-base bleachers. There is now also a farm that provides 5,900 pounds (2,700 kg) of fresh produce to the stadium’s vendors. “You can buy kale in any part of Fenway Park now,” Wilson-Rich says.

Best Bees’ turnkey solution means that property managers don’t have to lift a finger to reap the benefits of having bees. And those benefits go far beyond a fuzzy feeling that a property owner is doing something good for the environment.

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