NYC DOT Announced The Pollinator Port Project & Habitats for Bees in DOT Public Plazas




New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez, The Horticultural Society of New York (The Hort), and Rutgers University today, during Earth Week, announced the Pollinator Port Project to create habitats for at-risk native bee populations in select NYC DOT public plazas and Open Streets. As part of the project, ‘bee hotels’ and ‘bee bunkers’ will be installed, and vegetation will be planted to provide nourishment for bees and other pollinators. According to the United Nations’ Environment Programme, bees are essential for the planet and are a crucial part of the biodiversity needed to sustain life. Bees have fewer habitats in urban areas and often have long distances between green spaces in cities. The installations announced today will provide connections between other green spaces across the city and will attract tickle bees, a small, native bee species that rarely sting.

“Our Open Streets and public plazas have always buzzed with activity, but this year they’re going to be the bee’s knees,” said NYC DOT Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. “Bees are essential for the health of our planet, and this initiative will create habitats for at-risk native bee populations and help facilitate important scientific research.”

The Pollinator Port Project, NYC DOT on Twitter

The Pollinator Port Project will include the following NYC DOT plazas and Open Streets. Last year, bee hotels and bunkers were tested in Parkside Plaza in Brooklyn and Fordham Plaza in the Bronx.

  • Fordham Plaza
  • Parkside Plaza
  • Cooper Sq Plaza
  • Quisqueya Plaza (Dyckman Plaza)
  • Water Street, Staten Island
  • Gates Ave
  • 34th Ave

Bee hotels look similar to birdhouses filled with natural materials such as reeds and bamboo that serve as ‘rooms’ for solitary bees to nest their larvae and occasionally rest. Female bees deposit their eggs throughout the summer and provision them with food so the developing baby bees can safely grow. The bee hotels will be posted in planted areas of public plazas and Open Streets to accommodate movement in the planted corridor of our streetscape to facilitate their commute between the five boroughs.

Bee bunkers provide protected soil into which female bees build their nests and lay their eggs. Over the winter, the developing larvae are kept safe and cozy until they are ready to emerge in the spring. Burrowing bees tend to stay local to their habitat and typically forage within three to four blocks of where they live. Burrowing bees are docile and rarely sting. The bunkers will be placed inside existing planters to minimize interactions with people.

In addition to providing habitats, researchers from Rutgers University will study the city bees, their use of provided habitats, and how they move across the city. In one study, the bees will be marked using safe, biodegradable, colored spots to gain information about their population size and movement between green spaces. The Hort hosts an annual “Bee Jubilee” where New Yorkers can volunteer to help spot bees that are marked by the scientists to identify where the bees travel.

The Hort currently provides maintenance, operations, and horticultural care at 30 plazas, 25 Open Streets, and other public spaces in underserved communities across the city. Those resources will be expanded to 100 public spaces in underserved neighborhoods to ensure all New Yorkers have better access to high quality and vibrant public spaces. The Hort provides technical assistance (Hort Support) to community partners, which includes permitting, programming, community outreach, promotion, fundraising, grant writing, and more.

The Rutgers Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources is part of the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences located in New Brunswick, NJ. The Ittleson Foundation provided a $50,000 grant to Rutgers for the first three years of this study.

Riverside Park Conservancy installs housing for native bees! Image courtesy Riverside Park Conservancy

The Pollinator Port Project joins a list of New Yorkers welcoming bee’s and their habitats. ┬áIn 2021, Riverside Park Conservancy announced the installation of bee habitats for native bees in Riverside Park.

Also during World Pollinator Week in 2021, NYC Parks Department unveiled eight new ‘Pollinator Place’ gardens all five boroughs.

One of five bee hives in Madison Square Park. 2017.

In 2017, Madison Square Park Conservancy added five Bee Hives! Most of the hives are visible from the walkways throughout the park.

Bryant Park, they have an apiary open now through late July. They are also offering beekeeping classes with their apiary partner!

Bees can be found on the largest green roof in New York City ~ at the Javits Center!

Pierre Huyghe, Untitled (Liegender Frauenakt) in the MoMA Sculpture Garden for the exhibition ‘YOU ARE HERE’.

One of our favorite’s was a MoMA Sculpture Garden Installation entitled ‘YOU ARE HERE* with Pierre Huyghe’s Untitled (Liegender Frauenakt) (2012), a sculpture incorporating a live bee colony.

These are just the tip of the iceberg of bee hives throughout New York City, with habitat’s on rooftops and green spaces all around town.

Leave a Reply