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Britain’s Building a Transportation Network Just for Bees (And Other Pollinators)

The idea is to provide safe passage for the insects that play a direct role in maintaining an estimated 90 percent of Britain's greenery and crops through pollination

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Photo: Jack Wolf

The British government may implement a new transportation network for some of its smallest citizens—bees, moths, butterflies and other pollinators. The so-called “bee motorways” or “bee lines” are essentially grassy strips of wildflowers and would help connect meadows, forests and fields around the U.K. The idea is to provide safe passage for the insects that both depend upon those habitats and play a direct role in maintaining an estimated 90 percent of Britain’s greenery and crops through pollination, the Sunday Times reports.

Over the past 25 years, the U.K.’s honeybee populations have decreased by more than half, the Sunday Times points out, and other pollinating insects—60 percent of them—are also in decline. The U.K.’s Southwest Business explains

The causes of this drastic reduction has been put down to factors such as toxic pesticides, habitat loss, disease and intensive agriculture which has meant there is now less wild grassland in which the insects can breed.

The non-profit organization Bug Life is coordinating research and planning, and has already been in touch with farmers in Yorkshire who would volunteer or receive grants to maintain small sections of the proposed 3,000-mile long corridors on their properties. 

U.S. scientists have been taking a more technological approach to saving crops as pollinators disappear, like building tiny robo-bees to carry out the task.

But while there’s been a lot of buzz around this type of high-tech approach, often the simplest solution works best.

More from Smithsonian.com:

Honey Bees Still Struggling 
This New Sperm Bank for Honey Bees Could Help Fight Colony Collapse Disorder 

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