Diesel exhaust disrupt honeybees’ ability to locate flowers

Screenshot_3As per a latest research by a team of researchers at University of Southampton, exposure to common air pollutants found in diesel exhaust pollution can affect the ability of honeybees to recognize floral odors.

Using floral odors, the honeybees locate, identify and recognize the flowers from which they forage. The study found that diesel exhaust fumes change the profile of flora odor. These alterations may affect honeybees’ foraging efficiency and, ultimately, could affect pollination and thus global food security.

What did the research find?

The researchers found that when the diesel exhaust (particularly the NOx component) mixed with the chemicals found in the odour of oil rapeseed flowers, the profile of the odors changed completely. When the researchers used the same process with NOx gases (nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide), which is found in diesel exhaust, they saw the same outcome, showing that NOx was a key facilitator in how and why the odour’s profile was changed. The changed chemical mix was then shown to honeybees, which could not recognize it.

How honeybees’ inability to recognize flower odor could affect us?

When honeybees collect nectar from various flowers they also pollinate them. Honeybee pollination can significantly increase the yield of crops and they are vital to the world’s economy: £430 million a year to the UK alone. However to forage effectively they need to be able to learn and recognize the plants. The results indicate that NOx gases — particularly nitrogen dioxide — may be capable of disrupting the odour recognition process that honeybees rely on for locating floral food resources.



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