Study: Diesel Exhaust Impairs Bees

Honeybees unable to find flowers

Oct 3, 2013
Outside Magazine
bees diesel hampered

Study shows that diesel exhaust degrades floral scent chemicals that help honeybees find their way.    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.