Feeds

Bees baffled by belching car exhausts = GLOBAL HUNGER

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

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

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. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.