back to article Bees baffled by belching car exhausts = GLOBAL HUNGER

Not only are cars apparently ruining the atmosphere and driving commuters crazy, they're now confusing our bees and starving the planet, too. A bee covered with pollen on a flower Give bees a chance ... insect hard at work That's according to boffins who reckon that diesel fumes are stopping the hardworking insects from …


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  1. Roger Greenwood

    Professor Poppy

    He's in the wrong job.

  2. RealBigAl

    Doesnt matter how tasty your dinner is, dump a big pile of excrement next to it and you're unlikely to feel like eating.

  3. aallison

    Anther mind-bogglingly irrelevant piece of pseudo-science (note the use of "may"). Here's a documented, as opposed to hypothetical, bee problem:

    Could we have a moratorium on "anthropomorphic emissions (might) cause you-name-it" reports please?

    1. Don Jefe

      Can you elaborate on these anthropomorphic emissions???

      Disputing science by using terribly incorrect terminology doesn't do a lot for your case you know...

      1. The Sod Particle

        They may have meant


        although they might not

    2. Steve Knox Silver badge

      REAL Science...

      uses "may", "might", and similar qualifiers all the time -- because real scientists know that they don't know everything.

      This particular issue is better described as "theoretical" rather than "hypothetical", because the hypothesis has been found to be consistent with experimental results.

      Now read the second paragraph from the article you cited:

      A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.

      Note the non-definite language there. That's how science works.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      A lab experiment demonstrated something

      It may indicate something in the "real world".

      Any firmer suggestions are journalistic imagination.

      Meanwhile, your post demonstrated in the real world that you're a twat. Unless you're a bot, in which case perhaps congratulations are in order to the hard-working twatbot team.

    4. ecofeco Silver badge

      Moratorium? Sure, right after you spend 15 minutes in the garage with the doors closed and the motor running.

  4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    How do they explain....

    The fact that City Centre Bee Keepers are doing very well and honey production is going up.

    Lack of Pesticides perhaps and not Diesel Exhausts?

    The reports by Bill Turnbull (BBC) who actually keeps bees was very enlightening.

    Nowt is a simple as it first seems.

    1. Steve Knox Silver badge

      Re: How do they explain....

      Or perhaps more controlled environments and less distance to flowers?

      Certainly not a simple problem. That's why investigating all likely possibilities seems a good idea to me.

    2. Katie Saucey

      Re: How do they explain....

      Newfoundlands bees seem just fine as well.

      1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

        Re: How do they explain....

        Newfie bees are a hardy, salty sort.....

        Besides, there's probably never been more than one flower blooming on that island at a time anyway.

  5. Dan Paul

    Significant NOx emissions can be caused naturally

    Not that anyone here would want to get in the way of an alarmist headline here at El Reg BUT...did you know that nitrogen oxides can also be caused by the natural, biological decomposition of organic material?

    This material can be almost anything that biodegrades, even that as expressed by a previous commentor as perhaps being unappetizing (RealBig Al).

    In fact "natural" NOx is a major contributor to smog in the spring and fall when temperatures are best for composting.

    Perhaps the issue with the experiment is not the mere presence of NOx but an enclosed space and greater than normal quantities of NOx. Kind of like the forced smoking monkey experiments?

    Another case of getting the results you wanted by designing the experiment to produce them?


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NOx gases were the problem.

    Hmmm... If only there were some sort of technology to address NOx in vehicle exhaust.

    Rummages through desk.

    Finds old Car Emissions test report.

    Confirms NOx was tested at 0.0 ppm.

    In the Year of Our Lord 2001.

    Modern clean diesels are probably also 0.0 ppm. It's the stupid old buses and stupid old trucks and stupid old heavy equipment and stupid old diesel cars that are belching NOx pollution.

    1. 9Rune5

      Re: NOx gases were the problem.

      AFAIK, real world results varies.

      The main problem, at least around my parts, is that a cold diesel engine is not a kind engine (to the environment). The particulate filters need to reach a certain temperature to be effective. Given cold weather mixed with lots of slow moving traffic, you end up with unpleasant emissions.

      Oslo came very close to banning all diesel vehicles a year ago, but the municipal's request was denied because there are no alternatives for big trucks to drive around Oslo. (Norway insists on building roads through every city, even the ones you will never want to visit)

      For the past ten years, most attention has been diverted to CO2 (the one gas plants absolutely need to survive) and the Norwegian government simply stopped caring about other types of emissions.

  7. Draylynn

    The source is wrong.

    NO/NOx is a problem in general, I don't really see why cars are being labelled a major factor, to fix a problem you need to find the source and cars are far from the source.

    From the look of these 'tests' (there are videos online), shoving a bee into an exhaust will impair the best of senses, lets face it, if you fill a car with exhaust fumes and sit in it, you die.

    NOx is smelly, it's not a food and the bee won't react to it... and slapping a single bee on the head provoking a signal for incoming food after they trained it that way - or did the scientists seemingly fail think of this? Somewhere an education system has failed again.

    I half heartedly believe that NOx has a major impact on their ability to detect flowers, especially since the majority of flowers preceding in my garden produce little/no scent, but are extremely vibrant and well pollenated by bees... as are most bees are accustomed to in high NOx areas.

    Diesel does produce NO/NOx, but so does petrol (albeit lower), so changing the fuel won't resolve the issue, it will delay the inevitable, especially since this year has hit a 5 year high of new vehicle registrations.

    Fracking can cause large amounts of NO and NOx in the atmosphere, equal to that of coal burning and turning all cars to electric ones won't fix the issue, far from it.

    Fun Fact: Coal in itself causes more pollution in the air than it's own weight - the very same coal that attributes to the power coming out of your wall socket at home. Electric cars are funny, this will just push the pollution up more.

    Whilst technology is reducing the amount produced per X amount of coal, the demand for power is outstripping the benefits as our population is constantly and rapidly expanding, with that there will be more vehicles, more homes to power, which means more emissions.

    Alternatively, finding ways to break down NO/NOx would be ideal, back in 2012 "photo-catalytically active" paint was created, this breaks down NO/NOx into nitrates (with the bonus of self-cleaning itself) and extremely small amounts of CO2. I believe you can buy it online, its called "KNOxOUT" produced by Boysen. I have absolutely nothing to do with the company selling this product by the way - but it is a 'light' at the end of the tunnel and something that's worth looking into.

    Additionally and always, cycle to work if you can, turn off that electrical appliance if you aren't using it and invest in some solar panel battery chargers, they really work (saving a ton in energy bills) and with technology nowadays are getting better/cheaper, there's really no excuse!

  8. Grikath Silver badge

    a sceptical mind says....

    That a species of insect that is perfectly able, and even famously known for it, to communicate the presence of a food source, its'abundance, its' distance, and its' direction relative to the position of the sun at that time to others of their hive through *DANCE* , would be utterly flummoxed by a bit of NOx , which also occurs naturally is....well.... less than likely.

    To put it politely.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: a sceptical mind says....

      They are utterly flummoxed by a bit of smoke, vibrations from internal combustion engines and ground vibrations from decent size streams you know...

      The thing about highly specialized and complex systems (of any kind) is that they are easier to break than less specific systems.

      Humans are extraordinarily robust creatures and we are exceptionally bad at judging our relative impact on things. You can walk around with a copper penny in your hand indefinitely and suffer no ill effects. Toss the same penny in a 30 gallon fish tank and most everything will be dead before the weekend is out. We even suck at judging impact within our own species. Remember that up until not too long ago there was no proof smoking cigarettes was unduly harmful.

      Fact of the matter is something is terribly wrong with the honeybees. Myself and some friends own a 250 hive honey project in East Tennessee. As little as four years ago it was overwhelmingly profitable. We are currently in talks to merge with another producer in hopes that combining all our resources can keep the core operation going. Our colonies fail before they mature and it simply isn't profitable with such small levels of output.

      Beekeeping is an ancient practice that is very well understood and CCD is a true mystery. The bees are exactly the same bees that were around a decade ago, but now something is killing them in massive quantities. If you don't live in a city you'll have likely noticed even the types of flowering weeds in your yard have changed. Clovers are already in decline due to lack of pollination.

      Whatever is causing it isn't anything terribly obvious. Many, many millions have been spent ruling those things out. It is likely to be a combination of things that have reached a critical mass, but to rule something out because it is harmless to Humans or would be inconvenient for our lifestyles is foolish. We can kill all the apex predators, knock down most of the forests and eat mostly chemicals and our species will survive. We can't survive without honeybees.

  9. Flatpackhamster

    They didn't actually test it on bees, did they?

    They did the chemical stuff, but didn't test their hypothesis on the animal they're claiming is affected. Odd.

  10. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    ...Remember that up until not too long ago there was no proof smoking cigarettes was unduly harmful....

    Interestingly, there still isn't. Proof, that is. There's lots of statistical correlation, and most people believe it, but no one has found an unambiguous mechanism for cancer or heart damage yet, which are the two most commonly claimed harms....

  11. ecofeco Silver badge

    Rather moot at this point

    The deadly cocktail of 21 different pesticides are going to kill the bees off anyway.

    Google: "pesticides kills bees"

    The recent bee die off was due to these pesticides. Yes, it has been proven. See above recommended search.

  12. Wzrd1

    So, diesel exhaust kills off bees and hunger ensures.

    Which is why Europe and Asia died after WWII, with all of those diesel and gasoline tanks rampaging about.

    Thank you for playing, please play again.

    And next time, figure out *what* is killing off wild bee colonies as well as domesticated bee colonies.

    And hopefully, something that is real and works when mitigated against.

  13. Potemkine Silver badge

    Good news, everyone!

    Overpopulation being the main problem as for global warming as for other environmental problems, a global hunger could be the ultimate tool to regulate that growing number of these unpleasant human beings.

    Soylent green anyone?

  14. Martin Budden

    This explains why you never see bees buzzing around the vases of flowers in maternity wards.

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