Diesel exhaust fumes alter the flowery smells that guide bees when they forage, potentially sending them off course and putting the food-growing industry at risk, a recent study said.
Honeybees rely heavily on their sense of smell to locate flowers from which they harvest life-giving nectar — transferring pollen grains from one bloom to another in the process.
The new research shows that diesel exhaust fumes from cars, tractors or power generators can chemically alter the smell of flowers and render them undetectable to bees. This, in turn, threatens the insects’ crucial role as key pollinators of human food crops.
“Somewhere in the region of 70 percent of world crops require pollination services, and ... about 35 percent of our current food production is reliant on pollination,” said study co-author Tracey Newman of the University of Southampton. Pollination services have an estimated economic value of 153 billion euros (US$207.3 billion) a year.
If the foraging bees are unable to find nectar, the entire hive will suffer from a lack of food — as will the plants that depend on pollination to reproduce.
Bees account for some 80 percent of pollination by insects, but their numbers have slumped in Europe and the US in the past 15-odd years due to a worrying phenomenon dubbed colony collapse disorder.
1. forage v.
搜尋；翻找 (sou1 xun2; fan1 zhao3)
例: The children had been living on the streets, foraging for scraps and sleeping rough.
2. off course phr.
偏離原定路線 (pian1 li2 yuan2 ding4 lu4 xian4)
例: The book is generally well written, but it occasionally veers off course.
3. pollinator n.
花粉傳授媒介 (hua1 fen3 chuan2 shou4 mei2 jie4)
例: Honeybees are a common pollinator of flowers.
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