What do highway signs have to do with saving the bees? If you're in California, a lot.

Tax dollars at work, in amazing ways.

California is using its highway system to save lives.

Human lives, yes. But first ... bee lives.



Bees are in danger. Their population is rapidly declining. Why care? Well, without bees using their sweet feet to pollinate all those delicious plants we eat, those plants die. And humans depend on pollinators, like bees, for about one-third of our food. Plus, beekeepers in America lost over 40% of their colonies from 2015 to 2016 from 2015 to 2016, so the problem is pretty urgent.

You can do the math! It's sad, upsetting math.

Hang on there, little buddy! Image by JD Baskin/Flickr.

But wait! Highways are about to come to the rescue.

Some of the folks who run California's transit systems want to turn the shoulders of highways into magical bee paradises.

Keith Robinson, whose main job is just to keep roadsides from eroding (if roadsides erode, then next up is roads), says this whole mission started with erosion. He and his team of landscape architects want to keep the over 250,000 acres of California highway roadside from eroding, which has become a major problem.

Their solution is a pilot program they hope will also save bee lives at the same time, which is a win-win.

They're improving the soil on the roadside.


Compost realness! Image via California Department of Transportation.

"We want to make sure that [the] soil sustains native plants and creates favorable conditions that encourage pollinator plants to not only to grow but thrive," Robinson recently told folks at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C. Hearings in D.C. are often held to bring to light important but overlooked conversations that matter to Congress and to the people they represent.

The plan also maximizes the effect of compost in that soil — the better the compost, the more native plants will grow. And if those native plants outgrow non-native plants, fewer herbicides are needed ... which means there are fewer herbicides killing bees!

The team is even using the barely-used snowblowers (this is California, after all) to spread compost! I love it.

This initiative has politicians of all stripes ready to get on board.

Get a good look. These guys are at risk. Image via Flickr/HealthAliciousNess

Congressman Jeff Denham is a Republican who represents California's 10th district. He's also an almond farmer who needs bees and pollinators for his own livelihood, as well as those of his constituents. As he said at the D.C. hearing, "Making sure we have healthy pollinators is critical to a state like California.”

Could this team bee any more resourceful!?

This bee is laughing at my pun. Image via Micolo J/Flickr.

I love that these folks are using existing infrastructure (their highways), all built in the '50s if not earlier, to solve a problem that didn't even exist when American tax dollars paid for it!

Robinson is determined to spread this plan to other states too. His team has developed a plant selection tool, TransPLANT, to help landscape architects choose sustainable, pollinator-friendly plants — because pollinator-friendly plants equal more bees and happy bees. They've also developed a roadside management toolbox to help other transportation departments learn from California's methods.

Sing it with me: "Life is a highway. I wanna ride it and save bees!" Image via Mark Sebastian/Flickr.

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that these solutions will completely fix the problems of the quickly shrinking populations of bees in California. As Eric Silva, from the American Honey Producers Association, said at the committee hearing, “We’re losing half the bees over the course of the year."

But California isn't giving up.

I love it when we find solutions for big problems hidden in places we see everyday ... like highways. These are highways that America built when my mom was a baby. With programs like Caltrans', those same highways could serve my grandchildren by creating a more fruitful, bee-full earth. That kind of creativity is so exciting to see.

Most Shared
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared