Bees take longer to learn floral odors polluted by vehicle fumes | Science News

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Bees take longer to learn floral odors polluted by vehicle fumes

Roadside pollution interferes with basics of foraging for nectar

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1:17pm, October 7, 2016
honeybee

TRICKY SCENTS Honeybees usually learn floral scents quickly, but it’s harder for them when the fragrance of roadside flowers mixes with car exhaust.

ORLANDO, Fla. — Here’s another reason not to love car exhaust: The fumes may make it harder for honeybees to learn floral scents.

In lab tests, bees normally caught on quickly that a puff of floral scent meant a researcher would soon offer them a taste of sugar, Ryan James Leonard of the University of Sydney said September 30 at the International Congress of Entomology. After two sequences of puff-then-sugar, just a whiff of fragrance typically made the bees stick out their tongues. But when that floral scent was mixed with vehicle exhaust, it took the bees several more run-throughs to respond to the puff signal.

Honeybees buzzing among roadside flowers must contend with vehicle pollution as they learn various foraging cues. Another lab reported in 2013 that diesel exhaust reacted with some of the chemical components of canola flowers, rendering them more difficult

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