Numerous studies show the importance of towns and cities for pollinators and there's lots of helpful advice on how city dwellers can help in attracting and sustaining bees and other insects in urban areas.
The latest city council providing a helping hand is Derby, northern England. They are putting eco-friendly living roofs on about 45 of its new bus shelters. The 'bee bus stops' will be planted with a mix of native wildflowers and sedum plants that are ideal food sources and habitats for pollinating insects. The council says it will make Derby home to the UK's largest city network of living roof bus shelters.
This is exactly what the Dutch city of Utrecht did two years ago, to great effect, covering 300 bus shelters. Also, on a very much larger scale, there's the example, in Paris, of the world's largest rooftop farm which is already bearing fruit. Literally.
A peer-reviewed open access scientific journal (based in San Francisco and Cambridge, UK), makes it clear that gardens, parks and roadside verges in towns and cities have an essential role in protecting and increasing bee and other pollinator numbers courtesy of their diversity of blooming plants and absence of pesticides.
If designed and implemented properly, allotments and community gardens can really benefit biodiversity. Not only should barren spaces be converted into green and productive plots, it’s also important that there are connections between these environments to help wildlife move between them.
The fundamental point is: whatever can be done, should be done. So, if you're a city dweller, what could you be doing to help our little buzzing friends?
Do Less: if you have a lawn, you could either (or both) set aside an area to grow wild or mow the grass less often to allow native wildflowers to appear.
Small is Good: large is obviously better, but if you've only got a balcony for a pot or other small space (like a window box), plant something that pollinators adore, like lavender. Check out the Bumblebee Conservation Trust for more ideas.
Be Organic: pollinators hate pesticides! They're harmful.
Bee Hotels: either create one by making a little pile of bits of wood (and if the bees don't like it, plenty of other insects will), or design yourself a funky, modular bee hotel from Ikea.
Be Diverse: planting a variety of native flowers will be especially good news for pollinators and, if possible, ensure that something is flowering in each season so that pollinators always have a food source.