Bees and Other Insects

Accumulated research indicates that electromagnetic radiation should be considered seriously as a complementary driver of the dramatic decline in insects, acting in synergy with agricultural intensification, pesticides, invasive species and climate change. The scientific review  “Electromagnetic radiation as an emerging driver factor for the decline of insects” published in Science of the Total Environment found “sufficient evidence” of effects in insects including impacts to flight, foraging and feeding, short-term memory and mortality. (Balmori 2021)

Research has found behavioral effects after electromagnetic radiation exposure including the induction of artificial worker piping (Favre, 2011), decreased egg laying rate and reduced colony strength (Sharma and Kumar, 2010; Harst et al., 2006). Neelima Kumar and colleagues found cell phone radiation  influences honey bees’ behavior and physiology. (Badotra et al 2011).

In 2020, an analysis on the biological impacts of electromagnetic fields on insects by biologist Alain Thill found 72 of 83 analyzed studies found an effect. “Negative effects that were described in studies include: disturbance of the sense of orientation, reduced reproductive ability and fertility, lethargy, changes in flight dynamics, failure to find food, reduced reaction speeds, escape behavior, disturbance of the circadian rhythm, blocking of the respiratory chain and damage to the mitochondria, mis-activation of the immune system, increased number of DNA strand breaks.”

5G will utilize higher frequencies presenting unique risks for insects. The study “Exposure of Insects to Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Fields from 2 to 120 GHz” published in Scientific Reports was the first study to investigate how insects (including the Western honeybee) absorb the higher frequencies (2 GHz to 120 GHz) to be used in the 4G/5G rollout. The scientific simulations showed increases in absorbed power between 3% to 370% when the insects were exposed to these frequencies. Researchers concluded, “This could lead to changes in insect behaviour, physiology, and morphology over time….” (Thielens 2018). Authors of a similar study modelling yellow mosquitoes (Borre et al. 2021) noted that higher absorption of radiofrequency power from future technologies “can result in dielectric heating and potentially influence the biology of this mosquito.”

A study published in the Journal of Insect Conservation followed key wild pollinator groups on two Mediterranean islands. Scientists correlated RF levels from telecommunication antennas with changes in the abundance and richness of wild bees, hoverflies, bee flies, beetles, and wasps (Lazaro et al 2016). Insects that reproduced and spent time underground were less impacted.

A 22 week study on the impact of a telecommunications tower in Kwara State Nigeria found that with higher radiofrequency levels closer to the tower, the diversity and abundance of insects decreased (Adelaja et al 2021). 

Repeated observations of insect trends associated with exposure to “wireless” radiation in the environment, that are consistent with more widely observed trends, lend urgency to consideration of “wireless” radiation in efforts to turn the tide of biodiversity losses and to preserve natural pollination for agriculture.

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