Sustainability

Mariam Amini
Utrecht - the Dutch city that transformed its bus stops into bee sanctuaries
Utrecht - the Dutch city that transformed its bus stops into bee sanctuaries
Mariam Amini

The Netherlands is a dreamy place, full of bulb fields, windmills and wooden shoes. Its bicycle culture and Amsterdam canals are also world-renowned.

However, like most places, the country is so much more than its capital, and among these off-the-beaten-track destinations is Utrecht, a city of tree-lined waterways, medieval monuments and bee sanctuaries.

What are bee sanctuaries, you may be wondering? They’re simply bus shelters that have been planted with grass and wildflowers to attract bees.

Over 300 bus stops have now been transformed into these ‘green roofs’, in an effort to preserve the city’s biodiversity.

These bee-friendly hubs provide a safe haven for many different types of bees, who pollinate and help maintain the greenery of the roofs.

Otherwise, they require little maintenance as they are composed of sedum plants that can survive through dry spells.

The ‘bee stops’ have also been fitted with bamboo benches, as well as energy-efficient LED lights to upgrade the space for human visitors.

Though the Netherland’s is home to almost 360 different species of bees, more than half of them are already endangered. Indeed, the decline of bee populations around the world has been a cause for concern by scientists for decades.

Image from The City of Utrecht Website

Utrecht’s innovative response and investment in urban beekeeping showcases one solution that could easily be replicated in other towns and cities.

The green roofs also capture fine dust, store rainwater and offer a source of cooling from trapped heat, and residents can apply for funding if they wish to transform their own roofs into bee sanctuaries.

A treat for locals as well as travellers, the bee stops are both pleasant to observe and fun to spot on a spontaneous walk or cycle round the town’s charming streets.

As the Netherlands’ fourth-largest city, visitors can also enjoy Utrecht’s many canals with a boat ride, or roam the town’s quaint Castle De Haar.

Alternatively, you can take in the glorious nature at the Botanic Gardens, or visit the iconic Dom Tower, where sweeping views of fine Dutch architecture await all who ascend.

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