Colony Collapse Disorder: Recent Study Suggests Cell Phone Radiation May Be Cause
What causes Colony Collapse Disorder? Why are honeybees disappearing? Does cell phone radiation have anything to do with it?
What happens if you put two cell phones in a honeybee hive for three months and turn them on for a total of 1 hour a week?
Researchers at Panjab University in northern India wanted to test the theory that radiation from cellphones and other electronic gadgets may play a part, at least, in the mysterious disappearance of honeybees that has puzzled scientists for several years.
They call it Colony Collapse Disorder. CCD, for short. It's been reported from many areas of the world.
With Colony Collapse Disorder, it's not that the area around the affected hives--nor any other area--is littered with tiny honeybee corpses. The sweet-making little creatures simply disappear without a trace. They leave their homes--their hives-- and never return.
Various hypotheses have been put forth, including pesticide use, genetically modified crops, parasites called varroa mites, and climate change.
Another possible cause is radiation, such as the almost ubiquitous electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and cell phone towers.
Back to the experiment in India. The researchers put two cellphones each in two hives for three months. The phones were turned on--thus the honeybees exposed to the electromagnetic radiation from the phones--two days out of each week, twice on each of those days. Each exposure period lasted 15 minutes, and was timed to coincide with the bees' peak period of activity, at 11 a.m. and again at 3 p.m. The experiment took place from February to April, and covered two brood cycles.
Remember, these honeybees were not exposed to daily radiation, as was misreported by CNN. The cell phones were turned on only twice a week, for 2 fifteen-minute periods per each of those days, for a total of one hour's exposure per week.
A third hive had two dummy cellphones, thus no radiation from them, and a fourth had neither real nor dummy cellphones. These were the two control hives.
The results are stunning, especially if you haven't put much credence in the possible connection between Colony Collapse Disorder and cell phone radiation.
The study looked at both biological and behavioral differences between the bees which were exposed to radiation and those which were not exposed. The biological aspects measured were brood area (this refers to the space within the hive occupied by eggs, larva, and pupae) and the egg laying rate of the queen.
Behavioral aspects measured included colony growth (total quantity of bees, quantity of honey stores, and quantity of pollen stores in the hives) and foraging habits (efficiency and rate of activity, as well as rate of return to the hive).
The results: How the cell phone radiation affected the honeybees
Bee strength: There were 9 comb frames in the unexposed colony, compared to only 5 comb frames in the colony exposed to cell phone radiation.
Area under brood: Control colony, 1975.44 cm2; exposed colony, 760.19 cm2
Egg laying rate of queen: Unexposed queen: 376.2 eggs per day; queen exposed to cell phone radiation: 144.8 eggs per day
There was a dramatic decrease in the number of bees returning to the hive exposed to cell phone radiation. By the end of the three months that the experiment lasted, "there was neither honey, nor pollen or brood and bees in the colony."
There was simply no more colony--no more life!--where the cellphones had been turned on for 30 minutes twice a week!
"The present study therefore suggests that colony collapse does occur as a result of exposure to cellphone radiations," the researchers concluded.
The researchers also make an encouraging observation:
Reports of such a colony collapse in nature in developing countries like India where electromagnetic radiation (EMR) based technologies are comparatively new are absent. It is possible that the electrosmog that prevails in the advanced countries of the world has not yet affected these countries. We are fortunate that the warning bells have been sounded and it is for us to timely plan strategies to save not only the bees but life from the ill effects of such EMR.
You can read the researchers' data, explanation of the study, and conclusions here.
The results of this study were published in Current Science, Vol. 98, No. 10, 25 May 2010, page 1376 in the section "Research Communications".