Bee vs Mobile Phone: Electromagnetic Fields Confuse Honeybees


[Image by Flickr user Cignus]

A new paper from Daniel Favre, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, provides more ammo to the argument that mobile phone signals are contributing to the decline of honeybees. Experiments with nearby cell phones in off, standby, and call-making mode demonstrate increases in honeybees giving off the "noise" which signals bees to leave the hive. This "worker piping" noise in a bee colony is usually infrequent, with no more than two bees simultaneously active. The study finds that honeybee noise increases by 10 times when a phone call is made or received. Fast Company covers this potential impact to our food supply linking to the new paper (PDF) and quoting Favre who responded directly to the article:

The induction of honeybee worker piping by the electromagnetic fields of mobile phones might have dramatic consequences in terms of colony losses due to unexpected swarming...In natural conditions, worker piping either announces the swarming process of the bee colony or is a signal of a disturbed bee colony. For future experiments, in complement to the present original study and in order to reach more 'natural' conditions, mobile phone apparatuses should be placed at various increasing distances away from the hives. We should ask ourselves, whether the plethora of mobile phone masts also have an impact on the behaviour of the honeybees...I am calling the international scientific community for more research in this field.

Let's hope the international scientific community takes up Farve's own "piping signal."

Read the whole article on Fast Company.
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