Don’t give us a buzz… Are our phones killing bees?

Could it be true that the expansion, or indeed explosion of mobile phone use is killing off bees?

The honey bee, bumble bee and other pollinators are vital to human survival, an apocryphal quote sometimes attributed to Einstein claims that humans would have four years of life left if the bees died out.

But for the last few years, the bees have been dying out, as the condition known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) takes its toll on the hives and colonies that support our native bee population.

As yet we dont know why CCD, which leaves abandoned hives in a Marie Celeste type condition, takes place – various explanations have been proffered from insectisides (I wrote about this for Organic life a couple of years ago), to fungi, and also to mobile phone masts.

Some suggest that the fact that bees navigate using magnetic particles in their bodies, may mean it is possible that radiation could interfere with this navigation process.

Some dramatic evidence – albeit limited – of the effect that DECT radiation (the type given off by masts and portable phone base stations) is available here in a document which gives the results of a study carried out by german academics.

The report   chronicles an experiment with four bee hives, in which two were exposed directly to a DECT base station, which emits a similar kind of radiation as a mobile phone mast.

In each case, bees were selected from the hive, and released 800 metres away – in the case of the unexposed behives, lots of bees quickly returned to their hive.

But in stark contrast, in the hives which had been fully exposed, none or only a few bees returned and much more slowly.

Not only this, but in the exposed beehives, there was significantly less honey comb constructed, and that was of a lower weight or density than in the unexposed hive.

Given this evidence, is it time we reconsidered our massively widespread use of mobile phones?  Or at least called for a in depth examination of the potential effects?

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