Friday, July 11, 2008

Bee update

Air Pollution Impedes Bees' Ability to Find Flowers

Excerpts from the article:

Fuentes said scientists now have a more sophisticated understanding of the signals for which insects are searching, and that air pollution rapidly eliminates as much as 90 percent of flowers' aroma.

In the prevailing conditions before the 1800s, the researchers calculated that a flower's scent could travel between 3,280 feet and 4,000 feet, Fuentes said in an interview, but today, that scent might travel 650 feet to 1,000 feet in highly polluted areas such as the District of Columbia, Los Angeles or Houston.

This phenomenon triggers a cycle, the authors noted, in which the pollinators have trouble finding sufficient food, and as a result their populations decline. That, in turn, translates into decreased pollination and keeps flowering plants, including many fruits and vegetables, from proliferating.

Hopefully peak oil will have a positive benefit of decreasing air pollution... but I won't hold my breath. Maybe I DO need to get some bees for the backyard. I think this may be the reason why I am getting only one or two zukes and cukes per week, and why I had to self-pollinate the pumpkin. (Although I do see bees buzzing around my plants... hmmm).

I live in the middle of a city, in the middle of an area with FOUR highways/expressways. I have never thought of this area as "polluted" but I can see how it might be hard for bees to find their way, despite my efforts with clover, catmint, lemon balm, and borage.


Tara said...

Ouch! How depressing. Bees are on my list, eventually. They'll be coming along sometime after poultry and garden, and probably after worms, but maybe before.

Hausfrau said...

I'm wondering if farmers of certain crops are going to have to start caring for their own bees in order to deal with this problem. Anyone know any farmers having trouble getting pollination?

Melissa said...

tara, I only have experience with worms, but they are super easy...I'd start there! I live in CA sort of in the midst of where all those fires are...I imagine that can't be good for the poor little guys. We hope to buy a house and get out of the condo soon, and then I can move on to chickens and bees!

btw, I think farmers should start caring for their own bees since it's been theorized that part of the whole colony collapse disorder springs from the miles that the bees log every year being schlepped from field to field. thoughts?