Biotech Updates

Bees As Environmental Monitors

September 15, 2011

In addition to pollinating plants, honeybees make excellent environmental monitors. University of Wageningen researcher Sjef van der Steen used honeybees to measure the concentration of metals in two areas in Holland.

'Many parts of the world don't have access to complicated measurement systems but bees are everywhere. In principle you could use other insects, but the nice thing about bees is that they congregate at a central point. What is more, they cover quite a large area in looking for food, about seven square kilometers," said Van der Steen.

However,  measurements say nothing about the source of any pollution. "At present they are purely informers. The monitor gives a global indication of what metals are present in a certain environment without telling you exactly where they are or where they come from,"Van der Steen noted.

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