Study Finds Diesel Exhaust Keeps Honey Bees from Finding Food
A new study has found that honey bees may be unable to property locate feeding flowers due to a chemical in diesel exhaust. Honey bees naturally detect and decipher chemical messages they receive from flowers and use this information to determine which plants they should drink from. These vital messages, some researchers believed, could be interrupted by man made chemicals, contributing to the widespread bee deaths of recent years.
To test the theory that airborne pollution may be negatively impacting honey bees, a team of researchers, lead by Doctor Tracy Newman, recreated a natural feeding scenario. When presented with a natural floral odor, the bees stuck out their tongues and were given a drop of sugar water. However, when the same floral odor was released in the presence of diesel exhaust, the bees did not recognize the floral scent as food and would not stick out their tongues.
According to Doctor Guy Poppy, a researcher who contributed to the study, “[f]lowers have evolved to attract pollinators,” but airborne pollutants seem to be interfering with this “complex relationship” that has formed between plants and animals.
As worldwide honey bee populations continue to suffer from colony collapse disorder and other lethal ailments, studies such as this may be the key to protecting this threatened species. According to Newman, this is yet another piece of evidence calling for the improvement of air quality: for the sake of honey bees and humans alike.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock