• Switzerland's news in English

Cell phones disturb bees' buzz - study

23 Jun 2011, 11:53

Published: 23 Jun 2011 13:48 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Jun 2011 11:53 GMT+02:00

New research carried out at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology has found that bees buzz differently near mobile phone signals – causing behaviour that endangers colonies.

The research has shed light on another modern threat to bee colonies, which are already being killed off at a massive rate by pesticides and parasites.

Researchers placed two mobile phones in beehives and operated them alternately in standby mode and in connection to each other.

Results showed that when the phones were on standby, the bees' buzzing did not change, but when the phones were activated, the bees' buzz frequency rose significantly.

"This is clear evidence that the bees are sensitive to phone signals and are disturbed by mobile phones," said research director Daniel Favre.

Favre explained that bees normally only hum at a high frequency when they are about swarm out of a hive in search of food. He said that mobile phones could therefore cause the bees to leave the hive prematurely, before the queen has fully matured and there are no larvae to feed.

The disappearance of bees would have a devastating effect on the environment, as many trees and plants rely on them to reproduce.

The first major indication that bees were increasingly under threat came in 2006, when there was a wave of bee deaths in the US. Some beekeepers reported losing 90 percent of their populations, and the term "colony collapse disorder" was coined. 

Egypt, Japan, China and several European countries have since reported large-scale loss of bee populations.

Your comments about this article

2011-06-24 21:03:34 by robertsgt40
Does this mean instead of call waiting, they get a "buzzy signal"? BTW, the real destroyer of the bee in more likely Monsanto and other pesticide manufacturers.
2011-06-24 17:41:25 by Michael Rivero
This is propaganda to save the biotech industry. Cell phones have been around since the 1970s, but colony collapse disorder did not appear until 2006, around the same time that genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crops were in widespread use. Having been a bee-keeper myself when I was younger, I know that bees change their buzzing all the time., It is their "language", along with the "dance": they use to communicate the locations of newly discovered flowers to their fellow bees back at the hive.
Today's headlines
Deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Twelve thousand women participated in a race against breast cancer in Le Mans, France, October 2014. Photo: AFP

The study suggests a link to breast cancer.

Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Airolo in the Gotthard Pass. Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl

Voters in Ticino on Sunday strongly backed an initiative giving preference to local workers over foreigners.

France demands 45,000 Swiss accounts in tax hunt
Photo: AFP

France is tracking down UBS account holders.

Swiss back new law to allow phone and email tapping
A security camera keeps watch over proceedings in Davos: Photo: Johannes Eisele/AFP

Swiss voters approved a new surveillance law on Sunday, in a victory for the government.

Swiss politician argues against hijab in ID photos
The official guidelines should what ID photos allow. Photo: FedPol

Should the Islamic headscarf be banned in photographs for official Swiss documents?

Swiss driverless bus trial suspended after crash
Photo: PostBus

The pioneering self-driving bus was involved in a minor collision with a van.

Swiss supermarkets to charge for plastic bags
Photo: Migros

Migros and Coop will introduce charges for single-use plastic bags this year.

Swiss police arrest Algerian rebel wanted in France
Merouane Benahmed in 2015. Photo: Pascal Pavani/AFP

Merouane Benahmed has filed a claim for asylum in Switzerland.

In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: Royal Savoy

On the eve of its inauguration, The Local takes a peek inside the Royal Savoy in Lausanne.

Swiss-EU relations
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
The Swiss President and EU leaders cosy up at the opening of the Gotthard tunnel in June. Photo: Ruben Sprich/AFP

Is the Brexit camp taking note?

Sponsored Article
7 tips for learning Swiss French
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
Photo: AFP
Swiss ‘slave children’ to finally get compensation
Photo: Jan Geerk/Swiss-image.ch
Zurich named ‘greenest’ city on the planet
Photo: Swiss
Brawl over seats forces Swiss to abort flight
Photo: Daniel Stockhammer
Research shows typical Swiss chalets ‘not actually Swiss’
Photo: AFP
Switzerland to get nationwide disaster alert system
Photo: S3
Swiss space firm boss left badly injured in violent attack
Photo: ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich crowned best uni in continental Europe – again
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Report: Swiss citizenship rules leave some stateless
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Fatal crash: pilot told to fly below safe altitude
Photo: Peter Linke
Business & Money
Elderly Italian on benefits stashed €1m in Swiss bank
Photo: Stuart Richards
Court sides with chickens in dispute over noisy henhouse
Photo: SAC
Hiking: 7 incredible Swiss Alpine Club cabins
Photo: David Abercrombie
Swiss politician arrested over illegal entry of migrants
Photo: Coiffure X
Chewbacca stolen in ‘terrorist attack’ on Swiss hair salon
Photo: AFP
Foreigners in Switzerland surpass 2 million mark
Photo: AFP
Expert predicts major quake for Switzerland by 2040
Photo: The Local
Geneva runs out of permits for non-EU workers
Photo:C Carlstead
Geneva advises teachers on religion in school
jobs available