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Are EMFs Responsible for Vanishing Bees?

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Bees play an important role in the human food supply and in the general health of the planet. They are one of the largest contributors to crop pollination. Bees also pollinate countless flowers and plants that depend on these insects for their propagation and biodiversity. In large parts of the world including Britain and North America, bees are considered the primary pollinating insect. 1 The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that 71 out of the 100 or so species of crops that provide 90% of the food for countries around the world are bee-pollinated. 2

Beginning around 2006 and 2007, bees began vanishing at an alarming rate. Countries around the world reported a massive loss of bees, with beekeepers losing 30 to 95 percent of colonies. Reportedly, the bees “simply vanish relatively suddenly, with little or no dead adults in or near the colonies, leaving behind the queen and a few young.” In collapsing colonies the workforce only contained young adult bees, with numbers too few to feed the developing brood. 3 This new phenomenon was labeled colony collapse disorder (CCD).

Over the past years, numerous scientists have explored various possible causes behind CCD and the disappearance of the bees. Some experts have examined parasitic mites, bacterial pathogens and other viral pathogens which are known threats to bees. Other scientists have pointed to pesticides, genetically modified (GM) crops and invasive species of competing insects. Still other research reveals that the sudden decline in bees is caused by the rapid increase of cell phone towers and general levels of EMF in our environment.

In the 1970s, scientists discovered that a bee’s body holds an electric charge. They found that the bee can change the polarity of its antennae in less than a second. These rapid changes in polarity usually occur as a bee prepares itself for take-off, which suggests the antenna charge and polarity are used in navigation and orientation during flight. 4

Researchers found that bees have a magneto-reception system that allows them to detect the earth’s magnetic fields to perceive direction and location. They also found that this navigation system begins to weaken when the bees are exposed to higher frequency EMF fields. Their sensory system operates best with extremely low frequencies fields of 10 Hz and below, which makes sense as “from an evolutionary perspective, honeybees were not exposed to a.c. magnetic fields above 10 Hz” before humans invented electricity. 5

Early experiments revealed that bee colonies placed near electric fields became hyperactive. The bees, “in a strong electric field became aggressive, stinging each other to death.” They stopped producing brood and destroyed their own young. These bees would either completely abandon their hives or instead barricade every opening so none could enter or leave. 6

Recent studies have found a correlation between colony collapse disorder and the EMF from cellular and wireless technology. A study was conducted where test honeybee colonies were subjected to cellular frequencies for 10 minutes daily. After only ten days of cellular EMF exposure, no worker bees returned to their hives and simply went missing. In these EMF exposed colonies, each hive only contained the queen, eggs and immature worker bees. Additionally, the queen bees in these hives produced much fewer eggs than normal. These conditions were in huge contrast to bees in the control hives that were not exposed to cellular frequencies and showed no such declines. The researchers concluded that “the massive amount of radiation produced by mobile phones and towers is actually frying the navigational skills of the honeybees and preventing them from returning back to their hives.” 7

In another study, test honeybee colonies were exposed to cordless Digital European Cordless Telecommunications (DECT) mobile phone signals. In one of a series of experiments, bee colonies were exposed to DECT mobile phone signals for a period of 45 minutes. After this exposure, very few bees returned to the colony. Additionally, for those bees that did manage to return, the average time to return home was much longer than for bees in non-exposed control colonies. 8

More and more research is pointing to wireless and EMF signals as affecting our bees. The following are additional research and papers on the topic:

What You Can Do

We can all do our part to make our environmental more habitable for bees and other wildlife. Plant flowering plants and trees to help attract bees near your home. Consider becoming a hobby beekeeper — you can keep bees even in a small homestead or large backyard. Avoid using pesticides and other chemicals on your lawn as these can also be toxic to bees. Also, make every effort to clean up the EMF and Wi-Fi in and around your home. This will be not only good for bees, but for you and your family. Visit our mitigation section for everyday tips on cleaning up EMF in and around your home.

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Sources and References

  1. Hives left ‘like Mary Celeste’ as bees mysteriously vanishApr 14, 2007, The Scotsman
  2. Protecting the pollinatorsSpotlight, Dec 2005, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  3. Mystery of Disappearing HoneybeesDr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins, Apr 26, 2007, ISIS
  4. Effects of Electric Charges on HoneybeesWarnke, Vol. 57 No. 2 1976, Bee World
  5. MEASUREMENT OF THE THRESHOLD SENSITIVITY OF HONEYBEES TO WEAK, EXTREMELY LOW-FREQUENCY MAGNETIC FIELDSKirschvink, Padmanabha, Boyce, and Oglesby, The Journal of Experimental Biology 200, 1363–1368 (1997)
  6. Effects of Electric Charges on HoneybeesWarnke, Vol. 57 No. 2 1976, Bee World
  7. Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) Clashes with Honey BeesSainudeen Sahib. S, Associate Professor, PG & Research Dept. of Zoology, S.N. College, Kollam, Kerala, International Journal of Environmental Sciences Volume 1, No 5, 2011, Copyright 2010 Integrated Publishing Association
  8. Can Electromagnetic Exposure Cause a Change in Behavior? – Studying Possible Non-Thermal Influences on Honey Bees – An Approach within the Framework of Educational Informatics Harst, Kuhn, and Stever

About Sara

My passion is helping others. My goal is to uncover the challenges and dangers of modern electronics and wireless technology for those who are ready to see them. In my own life I strive to work, play, eat and live more simply and naturally.

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