Bees have faced a number of environmental problems over the last several years, starting with the mysterious colony collapse disorder.
Now pollution from climate change will further add to this important insects’ problems, as ground-level ozone makes flowers’ scent molecules degrade more quickly. Humanity relies on bee activity to a staggering extent, so this problem could have serious consequences for everyone if bees cannot locate flowers to pollinate.
Up to 30% of all the word’s food supply owes its existence to bee pollination, so a global food shortage may be looming in the future.
The amount of ozone in the atmosphere is only expected to increase as we see more of the problems associated with climate change become a reality. The chemical is considered a pollutant, and its chemical reactions with the scent molecules destroys them.
The study, published in New Phytologist, was conducted by Gerard Farré-Armengol. He works in Barcelona, Spain for the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry, wants the public to understand the impacts of this problem. Flowers will not smell as sweet, of course, reducing quality of life for many people around the world, but the impacts on pollinators will be felt acutely by may.
Researchers examined the most common bumblebee found in Europe as a way to extrapolate general bee behavior and examine how they will react to a changing environment. Unfortunately, without a scent to follow, the bees that typically travel great distances to pollinate simply lost the trail.