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August 11, 2020 - grist

An overlooked threat to the honey bee: Air pollution

An overlooked threat to the honey bee: Air pollution
Bee on Flower© Photabulous!

It’s no secret that living near a highway, a power plant, or some other source of air pollution can slowly kill you. Health impacts related to the toxic emissions spewing from these places — especially the tinier particles that enter deep into the lungs — are well documented: asthma, heart disease, pregnancy complications, and lower life expectancies make up a non-exhaustive list. But surprisingly, much less is known about how the same pollutants affect the critters fluttering around us, breathing the very same air.

A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday presents some of the earliest research showing that pollution is bad news for our pollinators, too. Scientists in India studying the Giant Asian honey bee, a wild species native to Southeast Asia, found that bees in heavily polluted areas did not visit flowers as frequently, had negative circulatory responses, and died more quickly in captivity than those found in less polluted or rural areas.

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