Photo via jbaker5 via Flickr CC
As if honey bees don't have enough to worry about right now, it seems that cell phone towers may be problematic for the insects. According to a new study, a rapid drop in the bee population in Kerala, India is the result of recently installed cell phone towers, and could cause a complete collapse of bee populations within 10 years. Reported on PhysOrg, an experiment conducted in Kerala showed that as mobile phone companies installed towers to expand their network, the bee population shrank. Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy conducted the study and concluded that the electromagnetic waves from the towers shorted out the navigational abilities of worker bees so that they couldn't find their way home after going out to collect pollen.
The report states, "If towers and mobile phones further increase, honey bees might be wiped out in 10 years, Pattazhy said."
It seems like a highly dramatic conclusion - and one to be skeptical about since the same issues came up a couple years ago. We're still digging for details on the "experiment" - so far it sounds like it's one isolated finding that when a cell phone tower was put up next to a bee hive, the hive collapsed within 10 days. What all factors were involved, we aren't 100% sure yet. But with honey bees suffering from all sorts of maladies, and with their health a vital component to food systems, it is a potential problem that shouldn't be ignored.
August 22nd was National Honey Bee Awareness Day. With this new study, it seems there's a whole lot to stay aware of when it comes to these important insects.
UPDATE: Image is updated to show an actual honey bee and not a quicker-than-the-eye-oh-so-confusing-bee-imitating hover fly.