Why did the bee cross the road?

Why did the bee cross the road? In order to answer this question first consider the road. On the first day working with the Echinacea Project, we (Zeke, John, and Brigid) visited the Around Landfill site. The aforementioned road passes through this Around Landfill site, which coincidentally, is located around a landfill. On either side of the road, C4 warm season plants and legumes grow. Alfalfa and Yellow Sweet Clover pepper the roadside, breaking up the green with flashes of purple and yellow. Small Echinacea buds hint at flowers to come. Corn dominates the landscape farther from the road. Cattle once grazed on one side of this road, as evidenced by a barbed wire fence.

There wasn’t always a road to cross. Before the road, a sea of uninterrupted prairie swayed as far as the eye could see. At this time, before the road broke the continuity of the prairie, the bee had no need to cross the road. Now, grasses, flora and legumes must straddle the road. In order to bridge this divide and visit flowers, the bee must now cross the road.

But can bees cross the road? Consider this question from the perspective of a bee. A bee’s umwelt is quite different from that of humans; bees have a short field of vision as well as the ability to see the UV spectrum of light.

We all sat on the roadside at this site, wondering if bees were indeed able to cross the road. Then, just when we asked this question aloud, a butterfly serendipitously flew across the road, as if in answer. If a butterfly can cross, we supposed that a bee can as well.

But will the bees be able to cross the road in the future? Given rapid expansion of cities, it is likely that the road will wide, creating a world for cars and not bees. Getting to ‘the other side’ could prove a much more daunting task in the future. 


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