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You are here: News & Events On the Research Front Bee Health Cellphone Radiation Affects Honey Bees – Punjab University Chandigarh Study

Cellphone Radiation Affects Honey Bees – Punjab University Chandigarh Study

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Pune, May 29, 2010 (sources: The Hindu dated May 28, 2010; The Financial Express dated May 28, 2010; Research Communication in Current Science Volume 98, No. 10, May 25, 2010): Butterflies, birds and bees and even plants – all are affected by electromagnetic fields created by cellphones and microwave towers used for telecommunication.

The news item dated September 5, 2009 in this site on 'Bee Colonies Affected by Cell Phone Towers' said that Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy, President, Kerala Environment Research Association, found that the electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phone towers and cellphones might kill honey bees and thus posed a threat to bee populations in Kerala. In the news dated September 14, 2009 in Tehelka, Adeline Bertin reported that scientists at the Panjab University, Chandigarh found that electromagnetic field radiation from cellphones had choked moongdal (Phaseolus aureus) seeds, affected their germination and early growth.

Commenting on the report of a sudden, devastating collapse in the USA's bee population, in Omega News dated April 10, 2007, Jean-Claude Gerard Koven of Germany cited George Carlo, M.D., the celebrated author of "Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age" blaming the recent proliferation of electromagnetic waves for the sudden demise – often within 72 hours – of entire bee colonies. The constant electromagnetic background noise seems, according to Dr. Carlo, to disrupt intercellular communication within individual bees, such that many of them cannot find their way back to the hive. Dr. Carlo's conclusions, Koven says, are confirmed by a recent study (reported in the Express India, Ludhiana Newsline dated March 13, 2007) conducted by Centre for Environment and Vocational Studies, Department of Botany and Department of Zoology of Panjab University, which has found that cell phone towers - the dominant source of electromagnetic radiation in the city of Chandigarh - could well be the cause behind the mysterious disappearance of butterflies, some insects (like bees), and birds.

In a latest study in India on the subject, the results of which are published in the Current Science* issue of May 25, 2010, scientists from the Department of Environment and Vocational Studies, and Department of Zoology, Panjab University, Chandigarh cellphone radiations are found to affect changes in honey bee behaviour and biology.

The researchers used Apis mellifera colonies, two of which were provided with two cellphones of GSM 900 MHz frequency – each on a side wall of the hive in call mode. The average radiofrequency power density was 8.549 µW/cm2. Two control colonies remained unexposed to cellphones. The test colonies had an exposure for 15 minutes, twice a day during the period of peak bee activity (1100 and 1500 h) for twice a week extending over February to April, 2009. The treatment covered two brood cycles.

The authors of the paper say: “Increase in the usage of electronic gadgets has led to electropollution of the environment. Honey bee behaviour and biology has been affected by electrosmog since these insects have magnetite in their bodies which helps them in navigation. There are reports of sudden disappearance of bee populations from honeybee colonies. The reason is still not clear. We have compared the performance of honeybees in cellphone radiation exposed and unexposed colonies. A significant (p < 0.05) decline in colony strength and in the egg laying rate of the queen was observed. The behaviour of exposed foragers was negatively influenced by the exposure, there was neither honey nor pollen in the colony at the end of the experiment.”

*Sharma, V.P. and Kumar, N. K. 2010. Changes in honeybee behaviour and biology under the influence of cellphone radiations. Current Science 98 (10): 1376 – 1378.