London: Signals emanating from mobile phones
may be partly blamed for the mysterious deaths of honeybees
worldwide, a new study has claimed, although many experts seem
unconvinced by the findings.
In the first experiment of its kind, Swiss researchers
placed mobile phones in bee hives under controlled conditions
and carefully monitored the reaction of the worker bees.
The bees were able to tell when the handsets were making
and receiving calls, and responded by making the high pitched
squeaks that usually announces the swarming process or is a
signal of a disturbed bee colony.
Dr Daniel Favre, who led the experiment, believes signals
from mobile phones and masts could be contributing to the
decline of honeybees and called for more research.
Dr Favre, a teacher who previously worked as a biologist
at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne,
said: "This study shows that the presence of an active mobile
phone disturbs bees -- and has a dramatic effect."
For his study, Dr Favre placed two mobile phones under a
beehive and recorded the high pitched calls made by the bees
when the gadgetss were switched off, placed on stand-by and
Around 20 to 40 minutes after the phones were activated,
the bees began to emit "piping" calls -- a series of high
pitched squeaks that announce the start of swarming.
But, within two minutes of the phone call ending, the
worker bees calmed down.
In the study, the bees did not swarm -- even after 20
hours` exposure to mobile phone signals, suggesting the piping
calls were a signal of a disturbed bee colony.
The onset of unexpected swarming triggered by mobile
phone signals could have "dramatic consequences in terms of
colony losses", Dr Favre reported in the bee keeping journal
The study did not show evidence that mobile phones were
deadly for bees, but one hypothesis is that "electromagnetic
fields could be contributing to the disappearance of bee
colonies around the world", he added.
However, British bee experts said there is still no
evidence that mobile phones posed a risk.
Norman Carreck of Sussex University said: "It`s an
interesting study but it doesn`t prove that mobile phones are
responsible for colony collapse disorder."
"If you physically knock a hive, or open one up to
examine it, it has the same result. And in America many cases
of colony collapse disorder have taken place in remote areas
far from any mobile phone signals," he added.
Experts mainly blame the vanishing honeybees on changes
in farming, the decline of wild flowers and pesticide usage.
It is also said that bees have been badly hit by the
varroa mite, a blood-sucking parasite that makes colonies
vulnerable to disease, freak weather or poisoning.