One city in Iowa is rolling out the red carpet for bees in order to save the human race. The Gazette reports the population of pollinating insects has been cut in half over the past 70 years, and that spells trouble for humans who enjoy having food to eat. Part of the problem is that the natural habitats of bees and monarch butterflies have been fast disappearing, replaced by parking lots, lawns, and other signs of human development, according to Popular Science. Now Cedar Rapids is hoping to reverse the trend by converting 1,000 acres of unused land into prime bee real estate. Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett tells the Gazette this project and others like it are "critical to the future of both pollinators and people."
The 1,000 Acre Pollinator Initiative, led by Cedar Rapids Parks Superintendent Daniel Gibbins, will plant seeds for 39 species of wildflowers and seven species of prairie grass on 188 acres of land this spring. Potential public land that has been identified includes some of the less-trafficked parts of golf courses and airports, sewage ditches, and more. The project, which has $180,000 in funding so far, hopes to reach its 1,000-acre goal within five years. Gibbins says 99.9% of Iowa's natural habitat is gone, and this project will help all sorts of animals, not just bees. "Everything that's native here relies on native vegetation," he tells Popular Science. Plus, the wildflowers will look pretty. (The White House may have doomed a bumblebee species.)