Study: Diesel Exhaust Impairs Bees

Honeybees unable to find flowers

bees diesel hampered

Study shows that diesel exhaust degrades floral scent chemicals that help honeybees find their way.     Photo: John McQueen/Shutterstock

Scientists say that diesel exhaust is destroying the relationship between flowers and honeybees. Recent tests show that a chemical in diesel exhaust, known as NOx, inhibits bees' ability to detect floral scents. The exhaust also decomposes flowers' scent chemicals.

Honeybees, responsible for an estimated $30 billion in crops, have seen a dramatic population decline in recent years. 

Scientists say the confounding effects of exhaust are a warning to reduce pollutants.

"Bees need to decipher the chemical messages they're getting [from flowers] to be able to home in on the flowers they know will give the best yield [of nectar]," University of Southampton neuroscientist Tracey Newman told BBC News.

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