Buttercups, hogweed, dandelions, and thistles might not sound delicious to you, but they are an urban bee’s delight. “Honeybees need a diverse diet,” explains Sabiha Malik, London-based founder of the World Bee Project.
Why should you care about a honeybee’s diet and delights? Because 70% of global food crops depend on pollinators such as bees, and a number of trends—chiefly urbanization, monoculture, disease, predators, and pesticide use – have conflated to shrink bee populations in most parts of the world. But by how much? That’s a question that doesn’t have an answer yet, and that the World Bee Project hopes to help answer.
About five years ago, Malik learned about commercial hive sensors that beekeepers were beginning to use to track the health of their apiaries. She saw in these sensors an opportunity to safeguard pollinators by collecting data. “Sensors were working brilliantly for individual beekeepers, but that wasn’t a way to solve a global crisis,” Malik says. “To solve a global crisis, we have to provide evidence region by region.”