Bee-Friendly Bus Stops Are the Latest Innovation to Save Our Pollinator Pals

A bee against a yellow background split with a picture of a bus stop with a grass roof.

Plant-topped bus shelters nicknamed “bee stops” are coming to the city of Leicester, UK.

The Living Roofs, designed and implemented by Out of Home Media company Clear Channel, feature a mixture of pollinator-friendly wildflowers and Sedum (succulent plants also known as stonecrop). It is thought that this could help support Britain’s declining bee population.

According to Clear Channel, it will complete all 30 Living Roof shelters by the end of summer 2021. But it’s not just about bee stops. The company also plans to fit bus shelters with solar panels and smart lighting (which adjusts output based on occupancy or daylight availability) to help manage energy use and lower the city’s carbon footprint.

Overall, Clear Channel will renovate and update 479 bus stops across Leicester at no cost to the city council—the inaugural project of a 10-year contract between the company and local authority. 

Councillor Adam Clarke, Deputy City Mayor (Environment and Transportation) said: “It’s great to see the first of Leicester’s new living roof bus shelters appearing across the city. We’ve already had some fantastic feedback from people who are as excited as we are to see this bee and butterfly friendly revamp of bus shelters taking shape.”

Leicester’s Bee Stops Are Promoting Biodiversity

This isn’t the first time that the city of Leicester has taken steps to ensure a healthy bee population. At the start of 2021, 24 different schools and their communities launched Polli:Nation for the Next Generation, a project to make their outdoor areas more appealing to pollinators.

Being in, around, and near to green spaces also has a positive impact on mental well-being, and brightening up city centers with wildflowers and greenery benefits all who live and work there. However, the pandemic has highlighted the lack of environmental equity in the UK (and around the world), showcasing the need for additional access to plants and wildlife.

Leicester could see several major industrial developments in the coming years, something that commentators fear may significantly affect the area’s biodiversity—and Britain’s dwindling healthy green spaces.

Reconciling the need for housing with the protection of nature is a problem facing developed and developing areas around the world, but innovative urban greening presents a unique opportunity to offset overdeveloped areas such as cities.

As with other similar projects, the green bus shelters will contribute to general biodiversity as well as overall climate resilience, carbon absorption, and the reduction of airborne pollutants. The plants even soak up rainwater that falls on the shelters.

“We know that true change comes when we start to roll out these types of innovation at scale,” said Clear Channel Managing Director Will Ramage. “We’d love to see the Living Roofs in every town and city across the UK and Europe, having a tangible and positive effect on our planet.”

All 479 shelters will be updated by late 2022, and Clear Channel has pledged to ensure all material from old shelters is recycled, upcycled, or otherwise avoids landfill.