Science Questions

Could radio signals or mobile phone masts confuse bees?

Sat, 5th Jun 2010

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Question

Charlie Brents & Bryan Shorten asked:

Could radio signals or mobile phone masts be confusing bees, contributing to colony collapse disorder?

Answer

We posed this question to James Nieh from the University of California at San Diego...

James -  There was an original study in India that created these questions and interest, and what they did is they actually put a radio cell phone transmitter inside the hive, but it really wasnít done with very many colonies and the results were ambiguous.  They were not statistically significant. I actually have looked at this paper. In addition, the authors have said that their results were too broadly interpreted.  So I would say, the answer is that there really is no scientific evidence that cell phone towers or other types of electromagnetic radiation from communications devices harm bees.  In addition, there are many areas that are afflicted by colony collapse disorder that do not have cell phone towers that are nearby.  So itís not thought to be a good link.

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If anyone anywhere knows of a succesful beehive that's close to a phone mast then the basis of that story (cellphone masts kill bees) is wrong.
I understand that beekeeping is on the increase among certain social groups (a weird fashion but why should I care?). Those same social groups are very likely to have mobile phones so I think it's likely that at least some successfull hives are near the towers.
It would then follow that towers don't kill bees.
I's also like to see some sort of theoretical basis for the assertion before I took it seriously. Bored chemist, Thu, 10th Sep 2009

Mobile phone masts have been put up as a possible suspect in CCD (colony collapse disorder). It is just one of numerous suspects which have been put forward.

But mobile phones have been around for 20+ years and CCD was first noticed around 5 years ago.

Apparently healthy hives put out in the USA to pollinate crops have suffered from CCD where there are no masts in the vicinity.

I don't think this study proves anything. How does Dr. Sainudeen Pattazhy know if that colony wasn't about to suffer from CCD anyway?

However, there is some advance in the understanding of CCD. Researchers from the University of Illinois and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, are making some headway.

Look at this recent report. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/08/090824151256.htm Don_1, Fri, 11th Sep 2009

None of you have thought about the possibility of the tower falling on to the bee.
Isn't it partly that because mobile phones and their increasing technology (g, 1g, 2g, 3g..) is reletavely new and as such not enough time has passed for their widespread use and any ill effects to be measured?

(Good job the chartered institute didn't use CHI in their acronym) SkepticSam, Sun, 13th Sep 2009

We had to have a colony removed around 3 months ago, that was in a birdbath near the  frontdoor. Very happy bees that were living under a cellular mast with no problems on their part, we were the ones worried about being stung. There are plenty of beekeepers who do not charge for the removal of the colonies, as they take the queen and as many of the workers along with the hive as they can safely catch. The remaining few thousand workers were gassed afterwards. SeanB, Tue, 8th Jun 2010

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