Wednesday, 18 November 2015

the bees’ knees or honeycomb hideout

As if humans weren’t already enough of a plague for the bees and their business, I learnt recently of a newly discovered component that might tease out a bit more about why bees as a real ecological keystone are vanishing and well as the wildlife they support.
Although diesel emissions are very much a contentious subject right now, it would serve one well to realise despite the increase in traffic and that our driving is leaving a much bigger footprint than we’ve been led to believe, three decades ago, the situation was far more dire with trees growing along the Autobahn covered in black soot and at least know, slowly, we are paying greater attention to the important things, diesel—specifically the nitrous oxide (NOx) which probably isn’t good for any living thing in any amount—has a measurable cognitive detriment for the pollinators. Vehicle exhaust affects the subtle aromatic chemistry of the flowers that bees seek and even a tiny change in the scent environment means that bees can’t form a mental map of the desired nectar and can’t communicate with their interpretive dance to others in the hive. Possibly this signals interference does not spread far from the shoulder of the road and may not be the chief pathogen working against the colonies (as there are several other candidates—habitat loss, pesticides, genetically modified crops, electrosmog from cellular masts, etc.), this is yet another reason to clean up our obsession with fossil fuels and the internal combustion engine, which seems quite antiquated and steam-punk no matter how it’s packaged.