Pollinator Port Project

“Human beings are a dominant ecological presence in every ecosystem of the globe. Basically, we are nature. It’s not ‘over there’ any more. And that means that all of our systems—our cities, our highways—are ecological.”

—Sarah Bergmann, founder of the Pollinator Pathway Project 


“Fragmented and disturbed metropolitan environments serve as patchy yet vital resources, capable of supporting wild bee populations.”
—Kevin C. Matteson & Gail A. Langellotto “Bumble Bee Abundance in New York City Community Gardens: Implications for Urban Agriculture.”



The Pollinator Port Project aims to answer a question: How can a city grid implement simple, cost-effective solutions that contribute meaningfully to the health of native pollinators?

In partnership with the NYC Department of Transportation and Rutgers University,  and thanks to the generous support of The Ittleson Foundation, The Hort is embarking on a three-year research project to test solutions to this question. We propose that by installing forage and habitat at “unideal” sites throughout cities, we will bridge the gaps between larger habitats. After rolling out the project in NYC, we will facilitate its rollout with service providers nationwide.


  • FORAGE refers to food for bees. Using peer-reviewed environmental research alongside our staff’s horticultural expertise, we will select the best plants to nourish bees to be installed at DOT-managed green spaces across New York City.
  • HABITAT refers to homes for bees. We will design, test and implement “Pollinator Ports” as places for native pollinators to live. We will explore different locations to install these habitats, such as roadside tree pits, light poles, and small public plazas to discover which are the most feasible and effective.
    • For cavity-nesting bees, we will work with prior research on “bee hotels” and “bug boxes” to develop effective above-ground habitat boxes.
    • For ground-nesting pollinators, we hope to design a new prototype of in-ground habitats. To add further value to this project, we will test different soil compositions to determine the best makeup to support ground-nesting bees.



Rutgers University

Dr. Kimberly Russell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Natural Resources. She is a community ecologist with a special interest in conserving arthropod biodiversity and the ecosystem services they provide in human-dominated landscapes. She and her students will help design the research project and track the success of Pollinator Ports.

NYC Department of Transportation

NYC DOT’s Public Space Programming division delivers free activities to public spaces, such as plazas and Open Streets. Programming brings arts, culture, fitness, and educational experiences to neighborhoods in need. These activities also promote the positive use of public space. DOT will work with The Hort to determine sites to install Pollinator Ports.

The Horticultural Society of New York

The Hort cultivates more than 100 acres of urban green space, planting 1 million plants in NYC each year. Our leadership and horticultural crews have the expertise and capacity to implement forage and habitat across NYC to make a major impact on the health of our city bees.

The Ittleson Foundation

Thank you to The Ittleson Foundation for their support.


With any questions, please reach out to the Pollinator Port Project Manager, Charlotte Muth, cmuth@thehort.org.