Among all the various factors playing into the collapse of bee colonies around the world, one of them could be your car. A UK study into how diesel exhaust fumes may affect bees' ability to pollinate flowers found that nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen oxide (NO2) - NOx gases - change the chemical composition of floral odors, making it harder for them to identify and locate flowers that they're normally attracted to, National Geographic reports. While this study focused on diesel engine exhaust fumes, gasoline-, biofuel- and ethanol-burning engines also produce exhaust fumes that contain NOx gases.

To perform the study, researchers at the University of Southampton required bees and a flower scent that they would be attracted to, so they obtained the insects and used an odor palette from oilseed rape flowers. The odor compounds from the flower that bees are attracted to are farnesene and terpinene, and soon after switching on a diesel generator, the exhaust fumes started to break down the compounds.

"To our surprise, really, we saw that even changes in one of the very minor constituents of the mixture caused a major change in the responsiveness of the bee to the smell," says Tracey Newman, a University of Southampton neurobiologist and co-author of the study.

Because the exhaust fumes changed the chemical composition of floral odors, it provides evidence of what scientists have long thought: air pollution is contributing to the decline of bees. The US and European Union monitor and set limits for NO2 levels as a proxy for all NOx gases. Nitric oxide (NO) largely has been ignored as a NOx gas because it isn't "heavily associated with greenhouse gases," says Guy Poppy, an ecologist and co-author of the study. "These are the sorts of emissions that are sometimes left out from the discussion about climate change," he says.

Another important lesson researchers learned in the study is that ultra-low-sulfur diesel, claimed to be cleaner than traditional diesel and used to power the study's diesel generator, still affects bees' olfactory skills, though Penn State University meteorologist Jose Fuentes does point out that the levels of pollutants in the experiment were high for urban rush hour.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 78 Comments
      Street King
      • 1 Year Ago
      I heard on Art Bell the other night that it was actually nicotine based pesticides that are killing them. Something in it messes with their sense of direction so they can't even make it back to the nest, and something else in it weakens their immune system. A bunch of Countries in Europe are already moving to ban them....
        tump
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        Art Bell is not a good indicator of anything factual. Why are bees dying? *Alien conspiracy JFK*
        Mark Schaffer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        And must there be ONE cause?
          Street King
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Mark Schaffer
          Mark, considering its been such a mystery this whole time, potentially. (one cause, or one main one doing the most damage). Exhaust has been around a LONG time, pesticides not so much.
        Mark Schaffer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Street King
        And have exhaust emission levels fluctuated and contributed to the problem?
      Brent Schmidt
      • 1 Year Ago
      Who seriously took that photo? Were they thinking, oh man, one day... onnnnnnnneee day... Autoblog will have the perfect story for this photo? lol
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not surprising, fumes tend to be stronger then floral scents.
      cinilak
      • 1 Year Ago
      Exhaust fumes kill insects? No way!
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      It saddens me to read todays comments. A good science education would really help America. You all know, Hillary Clinton is going to increase funding for rural schools when she becomes president. Think of your grand kids and vote Democrat in 2014 and 2016.
        willied
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        A good education in general would help you.
        Diz
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        How many suns appears on the horizon in your mornings?
      strykerzzzz
      • 1 Year Ago
      I say bunk to this story!!! As a kid in the 1970s I was taught in school that the world was going through a big cool down and we might have the next ice age. Now my kids are taught about global warming. I tell my kids that when they have their own children they will teach global cooling again - just like I learned. I think some scientists put out whatever will get them funding dollars.
        raughle1
        • 1 Year Ago
        @strykerzzzz
        Yep, I'm sure the scientists are all in it for the many thousands of dollars they're paid from their research grants. You should instead believe the Exxon Mobiles and BPs of the world, because clearly they are not biased by money.
        tump
        • 1 Year Ago
        @strykerzzzz
        I also went to school in the Seventies and heard no such story.
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @strykerzzzz
        Bull. You were taught No Such Thing. That bull story was from Time magazine, and if you were taught science from Time magazine you went to a poor school.
          strykerzzzz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          CoolWaters - you can't change history and say the teaching of global cooling didn't happen. Talk with some other people who had science classes in the late 1970s. I really had a science teacher telling us the Earth was cooling from pollution and we might go into an ice age. Down below I have a link from the NOAA site discussing the subject - keep the link and go to it once the Government is operating again: www.climate.gov/teaching/resources/70s-they-said-thered-be-ice-age
          FutureDoc
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          You know strykerzzzz, kids were taught the earth was flat for generations... I am sure that earth is round is just a fad. If you do a lot of digging on climate change history, actually most studies in the 70s said warming but the "iceage" got the mass press. I guess the story was "cooler".
          strykerzzzz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          I can even remember watching one of the Leonard Nimoy (Spock) "In Search of" TV shows about the coming ice age with my family one evening (not a lot of TV shows to pick from back then). The Winters were extremely cold in the late 1970s and everyone was spooked about the Earth cooling. I checked on YouTube and some people have even posted the old Leonard Nimoy Ice Age show. Check it out.
          Marcopolo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          @ strykerzzzz Be careful of substituting 'common knowledge' for real science, or history. There was never a time when " kids were taught the earth was flat for generations " . The concept of people thinking the world was flat began in the mid-19th century. Although, a few very superstitious, or ignorant people may have believed the world was flat, was not a belief among people who could read and write. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, even Europeans in the middle ages, believed the world was round. (which is why European royalty carried an orb, symbolizing the earth) Dante's play "the Inferno " written 150 years before Columbus is based on the world being round. The contemporary painting of Pope Gregory VII (1082) shows him resting his hand on an early globe.
          ElectricAvenue
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          To Marcopolo: That's quite a breathtaking leap in the same sentence, from admonishing someone about making claims to making a quite impossible to prove claim of your own (a universal quantifier across all of human history).
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @strykerzzzz
        Secondly, easily fooled strykerzzz, the damn Glaciers are almost Gone. Real FACTUAL Evidence. Third, your republican party is discussing a CARBON TAX right now. Do you self a favor and don't be the last fool still talking about "global cooling". Actually read the REAL IPCC report. https://ipcc.ch You know what else is bull and has never happened anywhere in the world? Wind Turbine "Syndrome". You Repubs are the easiest fooled generation. It's really sad.
          brandon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          What is my side exactly, since you claim it is "pushing 80 and senility"? It is clear you have an IQ less than room temp, but 98% of scientists don't believe this horse poo you're trying to push. AND unlike you, I do ACTUALLY have a science degree from an accredited university. So why don't you tell me again what side exactly I am on. While you're at it, why don't you tell me exactly why to do to prevent GW? I've got a good start, how about you stop using your computer, TV, hot water, A/C, and last but not least, WALK TO WORK. And if you really want to have an impact, just go ahead and killself so that you don't also breathe out CO2. Carbon taxes are just a scam, and have done nothing to reduce carbon emissions in the first world countries that use them. But hey, lets not think logically about this. If we did, then you would realize that even if it were the issue that the IPCC has been claiming for the last decade plus, then short of STOPPING ALL ECONOMIC PRODUCTION, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO STOP. That also completely ignores the fact that the IPCC has been wrong more than right. But hey, I guess this comment just makes me a stupid Pubtard too, right? Some of us don't believe in theft and authoritarian government. AND GUESS WHAT, I'M NOT A STUPID PUBTARD YOU public school educated twit. Please take your mouth breathing talking points elsewhere. Most rational people realize that you can't get 98% of scientists together to agree on anything. Much less something as controversial as global warming. Heck, the ISO can't even agree on a specific set of standards, so what makes you think that the entire scientific community actually believes this crap? I feel dumber just for responding to your asinine talking points.
          brandon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Stop believing everything your "side" is pushing. Second, I didn't see him claim a party, but your stupid azz is claiming him to be of such party. Which is clear where you lie on the matter. So if you can't back up what you say, then STFU. Below is a source showing sea ice isn't in fact, GONE. Is it where it was 30 years ago, no. But that doesn't mean it is gone. Also, many moons ago, sea ice was even further gone than it is today. Add to the fact that there was also a period of time where CO2 was much greater than today and we had much more sea ice than we do today. CORRELATION DOES NOT EQUAL CAUSATION. Geez, I hate you party loving dipwads, as none of you have a brain to think for yourself. You buy whatever crap your side is pushing. Just like the dems used to be pubs, and the pubs used to be dems. THEY ARE POLITICIANS, THEY DON"T KNOW WHAT THEY BELIEVE UNTIL THE FOCUS GROUP STUDIES COME OUT. http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/
          edward.stallings
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Read some on climatedepot.com and discover what real scientists are saying about the IPCC report. Pure political bs. Read some of the climategate emails. As for CO2 being a pollutant - Idiotic. It is a required nutrient. Everything we eat is made from it via plants in the food chain. To get optimized plant growth CO2 levels must be increased. We exhale it. What's next, an exercise tax for breathing harder? Have any of these idiot scientists ever bothered to calculate the caloric input of human activity into the atmosphere? It is way more significant than CO2, which might actually lower the temperature due to increased cloud cover and increased plant growth. This is all about the tax. As for global warming, we are in a long term warming trend from way before there could have been human CO2 influence. The fact that the great lakes area is the result of glacial retreat is a fact - and the land there is still rising in elevation as a result of that retreat. Familiarize yourself with the use of the term "useful idiot"....
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          My side is pushing SCIENCE, with Peer Reviewed Studies. You're side is pushing Senility and 80. And so you know the phrase "Correlation doesn't equal causation" and nothing else. Because it Does NOT Mean that Correlation doesn't help to point you to the Answer to the Problem. Statistics Actually DOES Point you to Causation with good studies. "Correlation doesn't equal causation" means DON'T JUMP TO CONCLUSIONS. FIND THE cause with SCIENCE. With Proof, with 98% of all CLIMATE SCIENTISTS KNOW Global Warming is Real. And like I said. GIVE IT UP Already. Your Republican Party IS. They are discussing a Carbon Tax Right Now Because Global Warming has been UNDERESTIMATED AND IS HAPPENING FASTER then our conservative scientific community has predicted. And there's a Real College in your area that teaches Stat 101.
          brandon
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Also, how can anyone take you seriously when you capitalize random words in sentences. Yet you want to claim you're intelligent and actually know what the ipcc report says. Just because you see a graph doesn't mean you understand the data.
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          And this is what I mean. Frackers are fracking in "Republican counties", because you're the suckers, and this is what you get: - Cow Deaths, Infertility, Stillbirths, genetic defects. - Humans 2 miles from a fracking site getting arsenic poisoning. - Humans test positive for phenol poisoning - Heavy metal poisoning - Animals entered the food supply with NO TESTING. - Contaminated farms continuing to PRODUCE and sell into the food supply! Because of your incompetent laziness to look for facts, it's YOU, Republican Business is F ing over. You're the sucker in the game.
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          And here's some real science with a graph showing you the decade's increases in global temperature. http://climatecrocks.com/2013/09/27/water-extremely-likely-wet-pope-extremely-likely-catholic-cc-extremely-likely-man-made/ Notice too, that sea ice recovered this year, somewhat, as weather is variable, it's not a straight line. And you can see from the graph that only an incompetent could say sea ice is recovering and there's no problem. You can also see the video from 1901 to 2012 showing the massive temperature change. Notice that this video doesn't cherry pick one or two years, but shows you 110 years. That's how you see a trend, with ALL THE DATA.
          strykerzzzz
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Whoa - calm down there!!!
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          Brandon, your reply truly shows the Republican Party is dead. It died with your laziness to find the truth. Enjoy the repubs raping you for the rest of your life.
      mbukukanyau
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is BS
      Haub
      • 1 Year Ago
      Thank GOD volcanos and forest fires are zero emitters.
        tump
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Haub
        Dumb comment wins award. News at 11. (Hint: we can't DO ANYTHING about volcanos.)
      ELG
      • 1 Year Ago
      the enviro-wackos say EVERYTHING is man's fault. stop giving those nutjobs press.
        tump
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ELG
        Yeah, who needs food!? F them!
        mapoftazifosho
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ELG
        Not sure if you've been around all the petro-chemicals we create...but I have and most of it is nasty stuff. If you think we're not doing anything you're naive or you work in an office...
      yyz
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wow, a government funded study with findings that agree with the government's political goals. Who would have thunk it? Its just another hit piece on the ICE to try and sway public opinion. How about if ZEVs compete on a level playing field with ICEs? With no government subsidies. If the tree huggers want to pay for their ZEV, have at it. But don't ask other people to pay for your folly.
        danfred311
        • 1 Year Ago
        @yyz
        Sounds good to me. You can start by paying for the wars to ensure your ignorant oil. And how about you also pay for the health damage fossil oil use causes. And while you're at it pay for the Sandy damage your ignorance caused. If you do that I wont bill you for the million people you killed in the wars.
        rex
        • 1 Year Ago
        @yyz
        Ah, follow the money. No that is too simple for some. Oh, and the UN wants some of the/your dough too.
        Card13
        • 1 Year Ago
        @yyz
        If anything, the government would want more ICEs. Oil companies contribute a lot more money than alternative energy companies
      Marcopolo
      • 1 Year Ago
      The drop in all pollinators, not just bees, is a very worrying phenomenon. The reasons seem to be very complex, and although emissions from NOx gases may not do the poor bee any good, they are far from the principal reason for the decrease in bee populations. It's too easy to jump to emotional conclusions. A DNA-based virus (IIV6), in conjunction with the fungus Nosema ceranae is a far greater threat. Parasites such as Varroa, also attack bees, leaving them defenseless to cope with winter. The not every species of bee is a pollinator, the introduction of more aggressive bee, wasp and hornet species competing for territory, in additional to other predators, also causes a collapse in bee numbers. Some bees are oligolectic, if the narrow range of plants they specialize in visiting declines, the bees can't adapt. Some bees require a combination of plants and animals to survive, if any balance in the chain is lost, the bee population suffers. Pesticides also kill bees, and worse, often remove many of the predators that kill predators that prey on bees. Increasing reduction of bee friendly habitat and range, is also a major factor. Bee keeping, is becoming less popular, with few young people willing to take up such and arduous and low paying industry. All in all, it's a pretty precarious life for a bee ! The biggest threat to all insect life (and plant ) life affected by the effects of NOx gases, is the totally replaceable use of the most toxic fuel. Marine grade No 6 fuel oil, (Bunker Fuel) ! A single ship using bunker oil, can equals the pollution of 50 million cars per annum ! ( currently, over 100,000) ship use bunker oil. Not only is the the single largest contributor of toxic pollution, causing hundreds of thousands of human deaths per year, but is the greatest single contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Bunker oil also does immense damage to aquatic life and the acidification of the worlds oceans. Yet, despite all the angst about motor transport, very little is ever heard about the single largest, and most easily removed toxic polluter. ( Out of sight, is out of mind.)
        Marcopolo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        @ brotherkenny4 You never cease to amaze me. Obviously you care about the environment, or you wouldn't waste your time posting comments. But, you never seem to understand the relevance of any issue, outside of a vague hatred of any sort of organization, not government owned. The bio-sphere doesn't really care about where pollution occurs and toxic NOX gases and even diesel particles can affect areas thousands of miles away from where they originated. In addition, suburban gardens are a major source of attraction for bees (who also travel). Your flippancy about the lack of new generations of bee keepers, is also a bit sad. The loss of generation to generation farmers and traditional craftsfolk, preserving knowledge and diversity is a serious concern. I employ beekeepers in three separate locations. ( I say employ, but sponsor is more appropriate, since I receive no profit from the enterprise.)
        brotherkenny4
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Marcopolo
        Okay, this is weird, I know. Yes, the story says that the affects are noticed at relatively high NOx levels indicative of high urban concentrations. Well, most important pollination does not take place in urban areas. So the article really tells you that there is an effect, but stops short of saying that it is a major cause or issue with regard to bee pollination. In fact, the inference can be made that there is no real issue in rural areas where NOx levels are below a certain point. The scientist would have to set an exact concentration level for us to be able to say anything else. Marco should become a bee keeper and endevour in an arduous and low paying job, because we\'re unable to get the young people to accept such a lot in life.
      windexsunday
      • 1 Year Ago
      Basically, a load of crap. If this was true, urban areas that have less pollution then they did in the 70's wouldn't be experiencing the problem. Nor would rural areas. Of course, that isn't the case. What this is a preconceived notion that scientists decided to "prove" with their research. Maybe prove is too strong of word, let me guess, there needs to be more studies on the matter I bet.
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