Although our sample analysis is still underway, we are able to share some initial findings one year into the project.
We have used the data collected by the air sensors in 2021 to map the average levels of particulate matter (PM) at each of the 45 study apiaries (Figure 1). Interestingly, the results show that air quality (determined by PM level) was not related to level of urbanisation. We had expected that the apiaries in the most urban areas would record the highest levels of particulate matter. However, we found that one apiary in the centre of a large city had relatively good air quality and lower particulate pollution levels than some of the apiaries in rural areas.
Sample preparation and analysis of the honeybees collected is ongoing, but initial results show that the bees sampled were carrying microplastics and particles of nylon, as well as fragments of car tyres. We are yet to correlate levels to apiary locations, but recent research from Copenhagen (Edo et al, 2021) found that, although honeybees in urban apiaries had the highest microplastic loads, a comparable number of microplastics were found in hives from suburban and rural areas.
Further findings will be published on our blog and twitter.
Edo, C., Fernández-Alba, A. R., Vejsnæs, F., van der Steen, J. J. M., Fernández-Piñase, F., Rosal, R. (2021) Honeybees as active samplers for microplastics. Science of The Total Environment, Volume 767. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144481