Bees can’t find food in dirty air

Bees can’t find food in dirty air

Lina Zeldovich writes:

When foraging for flowers, bees search for the familiar scents that blooms puff out into the air to attract them. Scientists call these little fragrant air pockets “odor plumes.” Once bees detect an odor plume, they start following it, flying from side to side to navigate to wherever the odor is strongest—scientists call this “casting”—until they land on a flower.

“If you think of a flower, it’s basically acting as a message beacon,” says Ben Langford, an atmospheric scientist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, based in the United Kingdom, whose team studies how insects pollinate plants. “It’s sending out a signal to attract these pollinators.”

But human pollution—in particular ground-level ozone—is messing with the odor plumes bees love, new research published in the journal Environmental Pollution shows. Ground-level ozone, which is different from ozone found in the stratosphere, is generally produced by photochemical reactions between two classes of air pollutants: nitrogen oxide gases (emitted by cars, factories, industrial furnaces, and boilers) and volatile organic compounds (released by chemical plants, gasoline pumps, oil-based paints, autobody shops, and print shops). [Continue reading…]

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