A new study has found that air pollution is a major threat to honeybees. In the new study from India it was discovered that air pollution isn’t just keeping the bees from being able to find their flowers, but it’s making them sluggish in their day-to-day activities, and it can even make their lives shorter.
This 3-year long study found that just mildly dirty air could kill 80% of giant Asian honey bees. This particular bee is a key pollinator in South Asia.
If these bees and other insects die out, the production of domestic fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes will be at risk, according to the research team.
They found that bees from the heavily polluted sites like Peenya, which is one of Asia’s largest industrial areas, died faster than bees that came from sites that didn’t have as much pollution.
Bees from the polluted areas had
- arrhythmic heartbeats,
- fewer immune cells, and
- higher signs of stress
Bees that died also had trace amounts of arsenic and lead covering their bodies. As they pollinate the flowers, it stands to reason that these same toxic metals are introduced to the flowers they are pollinating.
The researchers also conducted an experiment with cages of fruit flies at the same sites. As with bees, the flies also became smothered in pollutants and died faster where there was more air pollution.
The Honeybee Conservancy has a small list of ways you can help prevent this from getting out of hand :-
- Plant a bee garden.
- Go chemical-free.
- Become a citizen scientist (join a movement).
- Plant trees for bees.
- Create a bee bath — fill a shallow bowl with clean water and fill with stones.
- Do not use honey — keep the water clean.
Sometimes, these problems seem so impossible to solve, but if we all do a little something, we will make a difference.
Reference- PNAS Research Article, ScienceMag.org, Clean Technica, The Honeybee Conservancy, National Center for Biological Sciences -Bengaluru