Electromagnetic fields from power lines are messing with honeybees

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Transmission towers emit electromagnetic fields that tin disrupt honeybees’ expertise to pollinate adjacent plants, which could trim biodiversity successful these areas

By Sofia Quaglia

A honeybee collecting pollen from California poppies


The electromagnetic fields emitted from transmission towers – for illustration those that support overhead powerfulness lines that carrier powerfulness from power plants to cities – messiness pinch honeybees’ pollinating abilities. This disruption could person a important effect connected nan biodiversity successful these environments arsenic well.

Honeybees often trust connected earthy electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to navigate their surroundings – they person a specialised magnetoreception strategy successful their abdomens. A increasing assemblage of investigation has already suggested that vulnerability to artificial EMFs tin beryllium disorienting for honeybees, sometimes causing them to get mislaid connected their measurement location from foraging, and moreover leaving full colonies without capable foragers to past successful immoderate cases.

Gabriel Ballesteros astatine nan University of Talca successful Chile, and his colleagues exposed 100 honeybees (Apis mellifera) to different levels of high-voltage, low-frequency EMFs successful a laboratory for 3 minutes astatine a time. Compared pinch honeybees exposed to debased levels, those subjected to much aggravated EMFs produced astir 50 per cent much heat-shock proteins – usually elicited by precocious heat, these molecules protect cells from stress. The researchers besides saw a important alteration successful nan look levels of genes associated pinch nan bees’ abilities to forage, shape memories and navigate.

The researchers besides observed honeybees successful nan chaotic successful Quinamávida, Chile, and compared populations successful areas pinch progressive aliases inactive high-voltage towers. They recovered that, for selected honeybees adjacent to progressive transmission towers, heat-shock macromolecule numbers doubled aft conscionable 5 minutes. Honeybees adjacent progressive high-voltage towers besides visited nan surrounding California poppy plants (Eschscholzia californica) only a 3rd arsenic often arsenic those not exposed to EMFs.

“The bees were avoiding nan flowers that were located successful nan proximity of nan overhead lines,” says Ballesteros. “They benignant of flew towards nan flowers, but past they conscionable for illustration to enactment away.” He says that works populations were besides little varied and abundant successful those aforesaid areas.

This mightiness not beryllium nan full picture, according to Henry Lai and his workfellow B. Blake Levitt astatine nan University of Washington successful Seattle, who person studied nan effects of EMFs connected plants and animals. They opportunity nan study only looks astatine 1 benignant of EMF vulnerability successful nan wild, but it is uncommon coming to find an situation pinch conscionable a azygous root of EMFs. For instance, compartment telephone antennas emitting radio-frequency radiation are sometimes mounted straight connected high-tension transmission towers truthful honeybees are often experiencing multi-frequency exposure. Even emissions from nan researcher’s compartment phones, if successful progressive telephone mode, could make a difference, and nan researchers didn’t statement if compartment towers were located nearby. Levitt and Lai besides statement that nan study doesn’t mention whether section sites adjacent towers had been tested for pesticides, which are commonly utilized to support specified areas clear of vegetation and could impact honeybees.