Diesel fumes change flower odours that bees need

London, Oct 20 (IANS) Air pollution from diesel vehicles may be reducing the availability of almost half the most common flower odours that bees use to find their food, says a new study.

The findings suggest that toxic nitrous oxide (NOx) in diesel exhausts could be having an even greater effect on bees’ ability to smell out flowers than was previously thought.

Of the eleven most common single compounds in floral odours, five can be chemically altered by exposure to NOx gases from exhaust fumes, the findings showed.

“This work highlights that pollution from dirty vehicles is not only dangerous to people’s health, but could also have an impact on our natural environment and the economy,” said study lead author Robbie Girling from the University of Reading in England.

“Bees are worth millions to the British economy alone, but we know they have been in decline worldwide,” Girling explained.

“We do not think that air pollution from diesel vehicles is the main reason for this decline, but our latest work suggests that it may have a worse effect on the flower odours needed by bees than we initially thought,” Girling noted.

This latest research is part of continuing studies into the effects of air pollution on bees. Previous work in 2013 found that bees in the lab could be confused by the effects of diesel pollution.

The researchers are currently studying how diesel fumes may have direct effects on the bees themselves.

The findings were detailed in the Journal of Chemical Ecology.

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