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Scientists claim that mobile phones are behind the disappearance of honey bee Vlad Jecan | , 7:13 p.m. May 30, 2010 2010-05-30

Researchers from Chandigarh’s Punjab University say that they have found a possible cause for the disappearance. The increase use of mobile phones is behind it.

The researchers have conducted a controlled experiment comparing the behavior and productivity of bees in two hives. In one hive the researchers have added two mobile phones that we set up to work for two sessions of 15 minutes per day for three months. In the other hive, dummy models have been installed.

After three months, the scientists have spotted a decline in the size of the hive with the mobile phones due to a significant reduction in the number of eggs laid by the queen bee. In addition, the bees have also stopped producing honey. The experiment also revealed that far less worker bees have returned to the hive after collecting pollen.

In a report, the lead researchers Ved Prakash Sharma and Neelima Kumar have noted that "Increase in the usage of electronic gadgets has led to electropollution of the environment. Honeybee behaviour and biology has been affected by electrosmog since these insects have magnetite in their bodies which helps them in navigation” according to The Telegraph.

This research comes to back up a previous statement that mobile phones are causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD occurs when “a hive’s inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers”. Parasites that would normally seek honey and pollen left behind do not approach the hive in this case.

An experiment conducted in 2009 in India suggested that honey bee population fell after mobile operators have installed towers across the state of Kerale to expand their network. According to the research published in August 31, the electromagnetic waves interfered with the navigational capabilities of worker bees that go out and seek nectar from flowers to sustain bee colonies. Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy found that when a mobile phone was kept functioning near a hive, worker bees did not return.

Tim Lovett of the British Beekeepers Association said, however, “previous work in this area indicated that this [mobile phone use] is not a real factor” adding that “at the moment we think is more likely to be a combination of factors including disease, pesticides and habitat loss”.

The disappearance of honey bees in Europe and North America has caused a rise in thefts of hives. A number of German beekeepers have installed GPS tracking devices in their hives.

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