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.