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Cellphones could be to blame for the sharp decline in honeybee populations, according to Indian scientists.
Researchers at the University of Punjab fitted one of two hives with two mobile phones that were powered for 15 minutes twice a day. The other contained dummy equipment.
After three months, they found that the number of bees in the hive fitted with the active phones had fallen dramatically. Foraging bees behaved oddly, there were fewer eggs, and no honey.
Similar changes in bee behaviour have been observed worldwide in recent years. With little or no sign of disease present, bees simply leaving the hive, never to return. The phenomenon is known as colony collapse disorder.
“Bee colony collapse was previously attributed to viruses, parasitic mites, pesticides, genetically modified crop use and climate change,” say the researchers in a paper in Current Science.
“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.”
The team says that similar affects have been observed on bees living near high-voltage power lines.
They conclude: “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.”