I dashed from the upper lecture theatre to the main one downstairs for the 2pm talk by Dr Saad Masry on the subject: Honey: An Indicator of Environmental Pollution. The hall was not nearly as well-filled as it was for most of the lectures.Maybe elderly beekeepers were taking a post prandial nap in their cars. Dr Masry is from Egypt and this was his first ever lecture in English we were told. I must confess that I found him difficult to understand and, for once, I was grateful for the powerpoint.
Reasons why bees are good indicators are their high mortality; they’re easy to keep and breed; hairy bodies; fast reproduction; mobility and flying range; materials are brought by them to the hive; low management costs. They have a strong interaction with the environment averaging about 10 flights a day.
In Egypt, examination of honey shows that there is much contamination from heavy metals: copper, lead and zinc. There are also contaminants in the water. Contamination levels varied with distance from a main road. Hmmm.. that last point might interest the myriads of London beekeepers!
It is interesting that they bring in heavy metals. Dimly, I remember that, some years ago, a beekeeper, probably Jerry Bromenshenk, used bees for gold prospecting in California by examining the pollen they brought in.