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Norway's capital city is building a highway for bees

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Flowers are appearing across buildings, businesses, and balconies in the Norwegian capital of Oslo, as part of a scheme designed to make life easier for the beleaguered honey bee. Oslo is in the process of developing a "bee highway" for the pollinating insects, offering them a safe route through the city complete with food sources, resting spots, and places to live.

The program is led by Bybi, an environmental group supporting urban bee populations, and has secured funding from local companies. Some of these firms have provided dedicated homes for new bee populations, kitting out rooftops and terraces with hives alongside pollen-producing plants. Bee populations, hives, and movements can be tracked on a dedicated site run by the groups behind the scheme — if your Norwegian is up to scratch.

The project is similar to the White House's planned "butterfly highway"

The program is similar to the "butterfly highway" announced by the White House earlier this year. The large-scale American scheme will create and maintain a 1,500-mile corridor of vegetation between Mexico and Minnesota that aims to replenish dwindling Monarch butterfly populations. Both bees and butterflies have vital roles as plant pollinators — 30 to 40 percent of food production requires pollination — but both creatures have suffered huge hits in recent years.

Honey bees started dying off en masse in 2006, a process that has continued in recent years, with 31 percent of the US commercial bee population disappearing in 2012 alone. Researchers have blamed pesticides and disease for the collapse of thousands of colonies, but no definitive explanation for why so many are dying has yet been put forward. The dire situation has forced governments and scientists to act, creating bee-saving task forces and proposing plans to strap tiny cameras to the little critters to see where they fly. While bees elsewhere in the world are still at risk, Oslo's plan should mean Norwegian bees have a better chance at survival.