Air pollution could be making honey bees sick, says study

Published by PHYS.ORG

Now, a new study from India has revealed how air pollution may be depleting the health of honey bees in the wild.

Like humans repeatedly going to work under heavy stress or while feeling unwell, the researchers found that air pollution made bees sluggish in their daily activities and could be shortening their lives.

Unlike the managed European honey bee, these bees are predominantly wild and regularly resist humans and other animals eager to harvest their honey.

The giant Asian honey bees were observed and collected across four sites in the city over three years.

For one thing, areas with high pollution might have had fewer flowering plants, meaning bees were less likely to seek them out.

The researchers looked at the health of honey bees in parts of the city purely based on different levels of measured pollution.

Our diets would be severely limited if insects like honey bees were impaired in their pollinating duties, but the threat to entire ecosystems of losing these species is even more grave.

Creating more urban green spaces with lots of trees and other plants would help filter the air too, while providing new food sources and habitat for bees.

From September 2020, Coventry University is launching a citizen science project with the nation's beekeepers to map the presence of fine particulate matter in the air around colonies, to begin to unravel what's happening to honey bees in the UK. Air pollution is likely to be one part of a complex problem.

Citation: Air pollution could be making honey bees sick, says study retrieved 11 August 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2020-08-air-pollution-honey-bees-sick.