Scientists at the University of Southampton are investigating the possibility of honey bee populations getting affected due to nanoparticles found in diesel.
While traffic on US and UK roads is continually increasing, the emission of large doses of harmful fumes from diesel is believed to affect animals’ brains. Researchers are trying to find out if the harmful diesel fumes can be the reason why worker bees are not able to find their way back to the bee hive when they leave looking for food.
As part of the research, scientists will test if exposure to nanoparticles present in diesel affects the neurological and behavioural patterns in bees. They will also investigate the possibility of diesel fumes overpowering the natural smells of the flower thus making it difficult for the bees to find sources of their food. Bees are believed to be supporting employment and in turn the world economy through pollination of crops and honey production. In UK alone, the annual direct contribution has been up to £430 million. In spite of this, during the winter season, thousands of bee hives have been lost since the year 2007.
In the US, there has been an unexplained steady drop in the number of bee hives from 2007 to 2009. Even after exhaustive research from the United Nations the exact cause of this decline has not been identified. The recent researches on the harmful effects of nanoparticles has led scientists to investigate the link between nanoparticles and diminishing bee hives. The three year research is funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust Research Project.