Feeds

Bees baffled by belching car exhausts = GLOBAL HUNGER

Diesel fumes mask the smell of the tastiest flowers, say experts

Security for virtualized datacentres

Not only are cars apparently ruining the atmosphere and driving commuters crazy, they're now confusing our bees and starving the planet, too.

A bee covered with pollen on a flower

Give bees a chance ... insect hard at work

That's according to boffins who reckon that diesel fumes are stopping the hardworking insects from being able to sniff out the flowers they want to forage in - which could affect pollination and, ultimately, global food security.

Bees use a combination of sight and smell to spot the flowers that produce nectar and need insect pollination. Once the odour of the right flower has been learned, any alteration to the smell can make the bee incapable of recognising it.

Researchers from the University of Southampton discovered that common air pollutants found in diesel exhaust fumes could affect the ability of honeybees to find and recognise the flowers they forage.

The study mixed eight chemicals found in the smell of oil rapeseed flowers with clean air and with car exhaust-filled air. Six of the eight chemicals were reduced in volume by the diesel air, while two disappeared altogether within a minute.

The boffins then repeated the text with NOx gases - nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide, both found in diesel fumes - and saw the same result, suggesting that the NOx gases were the problem.

“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," ecology professor Guy Poppy said. "However to forage effectively they need to be able to learn and recognise 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.”

"Honeybees use the whole range of chemicals found in a floral blend to discriminate between different blends,” continued Professor Poppy, “and the results suggest that some chemicals in a blend may be more important than others.”

The full study, "Diesel exhaust rapidly degrades floral odours used by honeybees", was published in Scientific Reports. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Boffins who stare at goats: I do believe they’re SHRINKING
Alpine chamois being squashed by global warming
What's that STINK? Rosetta probe shoves nose under comet's tail
Rotten eggs, horse dung and almonds – yuck
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
Kip Thorne explains how he created the black hole for Interstellar
Movie special effects project spawns academic papers on gravitational lensing
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
Moment of truth for LOHAN's servos: Our US allies are poised for final test flight
Will Vulture 2 freeze at altitude? Edge Research Lab to find out
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.