Add another suspect to the list of possible causes for plummeting honey bee populations: cell phones. Is it founded or just internet buzz?
Honey bees are vital for agriculture and thew world's food supply. Researchers have investigated pathogens, climate, pesticides and several other possible culprits.
A study by Daniel Favre of Switzerland suggests electromagnetic fields could be causing bees to desert their hive dooming the queen and developing bees to short survival.
"In one experiment, it was found that when a mobile phone was kept near a beehive it resulted in a collapse of the colony in 5 to 10 days, with the worker bees failing to return home, leaving the hives with just queens, eggs, and hive-bound immature bees," writes Favre.
But don't get stung by the buzz of "Cell Phones Killing Bees" headlines buzzing across blogs worldwide. Even Favre admits the subject needs further study.
But for those ready to write off the suggestion, Favre responded to the report and comments from Fastcompany.com.
"Active mobile phone handsets have a dramatic impact on the behavior of the bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal. In natural conditions, worker piping either announces the swarming process of the bee colony or is a signal of a disturbed bee colony. For future experiments, in complement to the present original study and in order to reach more 'natural' conditions, mobile phone apparatuses should be placed at various increasing distances away from the hives. We should ask ourselves, whether the plethora of mobile phone masts also have an impact on the behaviour of the honeybees. Among other factors such as the varroa mite and pesticides, signals from mobile phones and masts could be contributing to the decline of honeybees around the world. I am calling the international scientific community for more research in this field."