Urban Honeybeez Are Precise Pollution Detectivez
A new study on pollution reveals that proof isn’t in the pudding — it’s in the honey. Research carried out in partnership between the nonprofit Hives for Humanity and the University of British Columbia showed that honey collected from urban beehives can accurately measure how polluted a city is. This means that honey isn’t just a byproduct of bee regurgitation — it’s also a way to closely monitor changes in the environment.
Writing in Nature Sustainability, the study’s authors explain that this study is the first of its kind in North America. They specifically analyzed honey collected from beehives in six Metro Vancouver neighborhoods — testing for levels of lead, zinc, copper, and other elements. The good news for Vancouver was that the chemical composition of this Canadian honey demonstrated that the city is “extremely clean.” But that doesn’t mean that human influence didn’t affect the honey at all — they found that the closer a hive was to the downtown metro, the higher the chance the hive’s honey contained elevated concentrations of lead, which is toxic at high concentrations.