In the face of rising air contamination in the Andalucia city of Cordoba, 80,000 troops have been enlisted to collect atmospheric data.
TO combat the ever growing problem of air pollution in Córdoba, the ‘special forces’ are being sent in. An army of sentry bees numbering 80,000 ‘troops’ will be stationed in the city as part of an imaginative initiative to monitor and control levels of air pollution.
Due to its peculiar topography, Córdoba is the city with the second highest levels of air pollution in Andalucía. The city is enveloped in a depression of the Guadalquivir valley leaving the heavy metals expulsed by industry trapped in a basin of air. In addition to metals, pesticides from surrounding farms are also clogging up the atmosphere.
The city’s council and the company Apoidea have reached an agreement to install four control stations in the city, each one with two beehives populated by 40,000 bees each. The important sector of the bee populations will be the foraging bees, which will number 80,000; these bees will leave the hive each day to gather pollen.
José Antonio Ruiz, the veterinary scientist from Apoidea, sees the bees as “defenders of the environment.” Each day, they will fly across the city in search of pollen and, with their bodies coated in fine hairs, become impregnated with the atmospheric contaminants.
Essentially, they will make data collection missions and return with an “X-ray” of the atmosphere. Apoidea will collect samples every week to 15 days and send them to the University of Bologna in Italy for analysis.
The beehives will be installed over the coming weeks in Córdoba and will not replace the analysis points already installed in the city. They are intended to complement the scientific data already being collected.
Bees have been used as atmospheric analysis agents since the 1930s. However, this is the first time they have been installed in a city to measure pollution levels. They will illustrate a wider picture of just how much pollution a living being picks up when moving through the city – something stationary detectors cannot do. Furthermore, the bees combined will track an area of 28 square kilometers – almost the entire city of Córdoba.
The initiative comes as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious bee killer, is reportedly wiping out colonies across Europe, sending the industry into crisis. Theories link CCD to pollution, meaning Córdoba’s sentry bees may be working to fight the very enemy which is wiping bees out.