How do microplastics affect bees?

In a world increasingly plagued by pollution and climate change, microplastics have become an environmental concern. Today they are found in just about everything, but the most worrying fact is that their effects remain unknown.

Research in Denmark has shown that 15% of the particles recovered from bee hair contained microplastics. As you can imagine, the highest levels of microplastics were found in urban bees, but the quantities in country bees were also comparable to the former. This is quite shocking.

But what are the risks to bees from microplastics? Studies show that while microplastics do not directly change their mortality rate, if they interact with other chemicals, such as pesticides, they could subsequently produce toxic effects. This is a factor that should not be underestimated, as it could cause major problems for the repopulation of pollinators.

It is not known how microplastics can affect queens, drones and entire colonies. It is also unclear whether bee tissues can accumulate microplastics and, if so, how quickly, making it clear that further research is needed to fully understand this pressing issue.

You can read the study on Science of The Total Environment.

This research has shown once again that bees are wonderful insects and can be used as a bio-indicator to identify the presence of pesticides, air pollution and even radioactive fallout. We at Beeing have already been analysing air quality for several years and are already working with various development and research organisations to provide important environmental information for the local community and citizens.

Surely in order to be able to do our part in creating a healthier environment for our pollinators and human beings we should start by making small gestures for the environment, for example start using biodegradable packaging and sustainable materials.

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