Are diesel fumes taking the buzz out of bees in Gloucestershire?
BEE experts are concerned that new research could show the insects are being affected by diesel fumes.
Their ability to navigate to flowers could be hampered by a chemical from the fuel, favoured by many drivers for its perceived economic benefits.
A study published in Scientific Reports showed floral scent chemicals which the bees latch on to can be degraded – and nitrogen oxides found in diesel fumes could be responsible.
Gloucester is the UK's first Bee Guardian City.
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Gloucester City Council replaced bedding plants with meadow flowers on roadside verges to save money and do more for insects including bees.
Dr Colin Studholme, director of conservation at Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust based at Robinswood Hill, said the findings are worrying.
"The trust is concerned about the findings of this new research as it appears to be yet another factor which is impacting upon our beleaguered bee populations," he said.
"There is clearly a need to improve air quality as well as to maintain and expand good bee habitat as society relies so heavily on the pollination services provided to us by bees."
Nitrogen oxides are mostly nitric oxide and a small fraction of nitrogen dioxide.
They are found in diesel emissions but other sources are also responsible and figures for Gloucester show eight of 28 places where levels were measured exceeded the UK limit. The annual mean nitrogen dioxide level limit is 40 micrograms per cubic metre.
As well as producing honey, bees are crucial to food production, by pollinating flowers.
Stroud Beekeepers' Association chairman Peter Lead, who runs a Buzzclub for young beekeepers across the county, said: "Man has, over the years, created an imbalance with his environment due to ignorance and greed. This is just another example and why the Buzzclub is really important, to educate children's awareness of the importance of caring for the world around them."