Bees and cellphones: not another horror story


The influence of telecommunications networks on bees is a narrative often visited and is based on unproven facts. Naturally this type of misinformation leds to resistances and doubts. To clarify that, we made this article.

The idea that theses networks have a negative effect on bees got great attention by media due to a small study made in Germany. That study was conducted based on very particular assumptions, such as the type of telecommunication towers used in the network. However, this study led to ideas and wrong conclusions that were leveraged and promoted by media and social networks.

That misinformation led the author of the study himself Stefan Kimmel to publicly declare to Associated Press that there’re no connection between his study and the phenomenon of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD).

After that other studies were made about the subject-matter. Daniel Favre in Mobile phone-induced honeybee worker piping argue that there’s a connection between the decrease of bees population, and cellphones. The methodology of Favre’s experience was to place cellphones inside beehives with bees and listen to the sounds issued by the colonies when the cell was on active mode, inactive, ringing, turned off or on standby. He concluded that bees are not affected by the cellphone when it is inactive or in standby mode, but that when cellphone is ringing or active bees are disturbed.

Favre’s experience and his arguments bring more doubts than answers. Inserting one or two cellphones inside a beehive is not undeniable proof that bees suffer with radio frequency. A cellphone is very complex device with a lot of noises that may lead to several effects, due to the radio frequency signals that it receives and sends, the ringing sounds and the vibrations. This inability of Favre’s to be sharp and concise in the causes of the disturbances of bees led to conclude that arguments of the study are limited and in need of further developments.

There’s not a temporal connection between the massification of telecommunication networks and CCD phenomenon, which led us to conclude that the cause is more recent.

Due to this intense and misinformed buzz the United States Department of Agriculture stated (read article) that neither cellphones nor telecommunication towers had shown any connection to CCD, or poor health of bees. The four main suspects for CCD largely responsible for the fast decrease of bees population are climatic changes, diseases and parasites, lack of food and the proliferation of pesticides.

Studies that try to relate the decrease in population of bees and cellphones aren’t taken seriously by the scientific community, because they are pure speculation without real support where the only goal is to mask the real problems.

Credits of the image: Skitter Photo/

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