Historical Biographies


, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 38-48

First online:

Melissopalynological analysis applied to air pollution studies in urban areas of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy)

  • Anna Maria MercuriAffiliated withIstituto ed Orto Botanico, Università di Modena
  • , Claudio PorriniAffiliated withIstituto di Entomologia «Guido Grandi», Università di Bologna

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This paper presents melissopalynological investigations applied to air pollution studies. During this research honey produced in an urban environment was subjected to pollen analysis. Also, the honey was chemically analysed for studies using the bee as a bioindicator of heavy metal pollution (Pb, Cd, Cr, Ni). In 1987–88, 96 samples from the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia were examined. Palynological analysis under the microscope was complemented by direct observations of the environment, e.g. movements of honey-bees, phenology, plant distribution. Results of melissopalynological analysis proved the wide potential of bees as bioindicators. Moreover, these data supply useful information for the full interpretation of chemical analyses. In particular, it is possible to verify the correspondence between honey and monitored period to check if the sample was in fact produced in the previous month. It is also possible to correlate the honey and the monitored site, i.e., the preferential routes of bees. Finally, it is worthwhile pointing out the presence of the honeydew in the composition of the examined sample: this substance can act as a «trap» for airborne particles, increasing their concentration in honey.

Key words

air pollution honey pollen grains