Polluted Soil Hurts Bees

Bumblebee

We seem to end up writing about bees quite a lot here in the CF blog. But this isn't just because we like their pretty black and yellow stripes -- bees are absolutely vital to the world of flowers, and the world of flowers is where we live!

So there's something quietly upsetting about this latest tale, which says that flowers (through no fault of their own, bless 'em) are actually helping to transmit dangerous chemicals to bumblebees.

The problem occurs when wildflowers grow in polluted soil. The flowers pick up toxic levels of nickel and aluminium, which are then transmitted to bumblebees which come to the flowers for nectar. 

 

"Although many metals are required by living organisms in small amounts, they can be toxic to both plants and animals when found in moderate to high concentrations," said Tia-Lynn Ashman, associate chair in Biological Sciences in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.

"Beyond leading to mortality, these metals can interfere with insect taste perception, agility, and working memory - all necessary attributes for busy bumblebee workers."

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