NextCity: What Can Bees Teach Us About Building Better Ecosystems

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Vacant land and urban agriculture are rejuvenating wild bee populations. Bees love cities. What can cities do to love them back?

STORY BY

Jen KinneyTwitter

PUBLISHED ON

May 28, 2018

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Last summer, Paul Maeillo had to clear a vacant lot in North Philadelphia, and he wasn’t happy about it. He’d done it plenty of times before, as part of the Philadelphia Horticultural Society’s LandCare program, which hires local contractors to maintain the neighborhood’s many abandoned parcels. But on this day the lot was full of wildflowers — and wildlife. In fact, it wasn’t vacant at all. He saw snakes and mice and many, many bees, gathering nectar and pollen from the untamed flora. “Just teeming,” Maeillo remembers. “It was kind of wild.”

The lot was an eyesore to humans, and a feast for pollinators. Maeillo didn’t have much of a choice: he mowed it down. But he left a small wild patch in the center. “It seemed not right to take away all their resources,” he says.

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What can bees teach us about building better ecosystems @ Next City

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