Bees are very important. They’re an integral part of the pollination process. And while we might not think too much about that, they play a big deal in our food production since they’re the ones that help to pollinate our crops. So the next time you think about swatting away a bee that might be buzzing around you, think again. For the last few years, their populations have been on the decline – something that has scientists worried.
But in Virginia, there have been two teens who’ve come up with a pretty incredible innovation that can help to save native bee populations. The two had the backing of their community in order to make their idea come to fruition.
The two 14-year-olds, Joshua Nichols and Luke Marston, are both residents of Newport News, Virginia. The two boys are also part of an award-winning robotics team called the Ruling Robot Falcons. For a while, the kids have been collaborating together on a project. It’s a mass planting of the native, bee-friendly vegetation across dozens of sites that span a 13-mile long pollination corridor called the “The Bee Byway.” The pollination corridor runs from Huntington Park to Newport News Park in an effort to protect bees from isolation and provide them with increased survival odds.
The Bee Wayway website has listed out that urbanization has caused the dissolution of the bee’s natural pollination habitat because it breaks up the flow of the naturally occurring green areas. When these environments get isolated into different pockets they turn into what are known as “ecological sinks.” These are essentially a mismatched pairing of flora and fauna which end up unable to grow because the urban green areas don’t have the resources to sustain the growth. Bees in particular are prone to being the most affected species within these urban spaces because human activity doesn’t allow them to build their hives.
In response, the new Bee Byway creates a pollination corridor that connects all these different isolated pockets of green and provides plenty of bee-friendly options for the insects in both public and private areas. The project guarantees that bees are able to find sustainable habitation along the corridor every one-third of a mile.
In order to get the project up and running, both teens needed the help of their community through volunteering and donations. Homeowners, along with schools, churches, and other businesses were encouraged to offer up green spaces that could then be converted into pollinator gardens. When the project was undertaken it started off with 30 volunteers, which then grew to 300.
As Nichols shared with the Daily Press their whole concept was based off the idea of connectivity and connecting already existing green areas with others.
Marston further emphasized the importance of the bees, calling them “a keystone species” who “support their local ecosystem.”
Luke’s mom, Alina Marston, is the coach of the robotics team. As one can imagine, she was quite proud of her son, explaining that she’s watched him really come into his own through the competitions.
She added, “He tells me all the time that he doesn’t have to wait till he grows up to make a difference in the world. He can do it right now.”
There is no denying that Luke, along with Joshua, are certainly making a big difference in the world right now. Who needs to wait till adulthood? There is never a better time than the present.
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.