Bee highways: how they work and why we need them

Gergana Karaboycheva | 16/05/2022 14:27:02 | article

A new article published in The Conversation journal outlines the importance of bee highways in putting a stop to the alarming decline in the insect’s population.

Pollinating insects have a crucial role in helping provide the food we eat, the flowers we see and the vast biodiversity on the planet. Bees transfer pollen between plants, which is needed for crops to grow and produce food. 

The loss and fragmentation of habitats, particularly wildflower patches, and the residential spread are major causes of the rapid drop in bee numbers. In the UK, there are hundreds of species of bee, as well as thousands of other pollinating insects, such as butterflies, moths, bats and birds. However, 40% of them are at risk of becoming extinct.

A possible solution to the problem is the creation of bee highways. The highways are needed because bees have a limited flight capacity to find food, so patches need to be close together for the bees to reach them.
Connecting existing bee-friendly areas together would facilitate the pollinators’ travel through cities, towns and countryside. To create this large network, wildflower-rich areas should be identified and connected together.

The creation of bee highways in the UK is one step forward in tackling the insect population crisis. Wildflower seeds are being planted and growth is encouraged by restricting mowing. Councils are encouraging the public to get involved, by providing free wildflower seeds, and campaigning to stop the public mowing their lawns. Wildflower meadows are also being planted in parks and alongside roads.

The authors, one of whom Safeguard partner Morgan Morrison from the Royal Holloway University of London, believe that higher connectivity between habitats should have far-reaching benefits on the production of food crops, and for a large variety of wildlife.

You can read more and access the full article here.

Photo: Bees on an onion umbel by Shutterstock

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This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 101003476.

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