The slowdown of human activity during the coronavirus pandemic has been a positive change for bees—who are responsible for pollinating one third of the world’s edible plants. Prior to the pandemic, wild bee populations had been declining due to pesticide use, habitat loss, and pollution. However, fewer cars on the road now means less bees are killed—which, according to a 2015 study, amounts to 24 billion bees and wasps per year in North America alone. The subsequent reduction in air pollution is also allowing the scent of flowers, which would otherwise be blocked by fumes, to linger in the air making it easier for bees to find food and bring it back to their nests.
“In a world with less air pollution, bees can make shorter and more profitable ‘shopping trips,’ and this may help them rear more young,” Mark Brown, professor of evolutionary ecology at Royal Holloway, University of London, told the BBC. Another benefit is that unmaintained growths of flowers on hedges are providing more food sources for bees, which Brown hopes will continue after the pandemic subsides.
Office brokering business Instant Offices recently compared data using the World Air Quality Index to find which cities had the biggest decrease in air pollution within their first two weeks of lockdown. According to this data, Delhi, India; Los Angeles, United States; and Madrid, Spain reduced their air pollution by 34 percent, 28 percent, and 26 percent, respectively—a big benefit to bees around the world.