The journal Insects just published the study Oxidative Stress Response of Honey Bee Colonies (Apis mellifera L.) during Long-Term Exposure at a Frequency of 900 MHz under Field Conditions by Vilić et al., (2024) of fifteen honey bee colonies exposed for one year to wireless radiation (RF-EMFs at a frequency of 900 MHz) from base station antennas, divided into three locations with different electric field levels which found the longer term wireless exposure “can cause oxidative stress in honey bees, with the larval stage being more sensitive than the pupal stage.” 

The simple summary of the paper states

Most research on radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) in honey bees has studied adult bees under controlled laboratory conditions after direct exposure to devices that generate RF-EMF. To date, there are many uncertainties about the effects of RF-EMFs on different developmental stages of honey bees under field conditions. We investigated oxidative stress in larvae, pupae and adult honey bees after exposure to RF-EMFs originating from phone base station towers under field conditions. The study was conducted on a total of fifteen honey bee colonies exposed to RF-EMFs at a frequency of 900 MHz, divided into three locations with different electric field levels. All the honey bee colonies at the three locations were exposed for one year. Antioxidant parameters such as glutathione-S-transferase, catalase and superoxide dismutase, as well as the formation of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances, were measured in samples of larvae, pupae and the midguts of adult honey bees. Our results show that the activity of antioxidant enzymes changes and that the level of the analyzed parameters depends on the developmental stage of the honey bee, the level of the electric field and the exposure time.

The authors reference the results of “numerous studies on the effects of RF-EMFs after short-term exposure” that “indicate that electromagnetic radiation at the frequency of mobile telephony can cause the increased formation of reactive compounds, even at low intensity, thus inducing oxidative stress as well as suppression of the immune system and antioxidant defense mechanisms,” and they conclude of their longer term study that, “therefore, our results show the need for further research in the developmental stages of honey bees, including not only oxidative stress parameters but, as far as possible, expression of the gene for the antioxidant enzymes, genotoxic parameters and a greater number of variations of RF-EMF sources in the natural conditions.” 

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“These findings indicate that the honey bees located at a higher field level are exposed to higher oxidative stress than the honey bee colonies located at a lower electric field level, which can also explain the results of our previous work [28], in which the authors demonstrated increased aggressiveness and restlessness of adult bees and an accelerated process of silent queen replacement in the colonies located in a field level of 1000 mV m−1.

“Previous studies on the effects of RF-EMFs on honey bee colonies mostly examined adult honey bees in the laboratory or under unnatural conditions, i.e., after direct exposure to devices emitting radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation such as mobile phones or Wi-Fi networks [19,20,21,22]. Most results showed reduced colony strength and queen laying rate [22,23] as well as the initiation of “worker piping” [19,24,25] associated with swarming. The results of some experiments suggest that RF-EMFs generated by mobile phone base stations or devices equivalent to commercial Wi-Fi devices could actually alter honey bees’ navigational abilities, i.e., reduce foraging success and prevent them from returning to their hives [26,27]. Behavioral changes and biological activities, as well as oxidative stress and short-term memory under laboratory conditions in honey bees, have been reported previously [20,21,28,29].”

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Vilić M, Žura Žaja I, Tkalec M, Tucak P, Malarić K, Popara N, Žura N, Pašić S, Gajger IT. Oxidative Stress Response of Honey Bee Colonies (Apis mellifera L.) during Long-Term Exposure at a Frequency of 900 MHz under Field Conditions. Insects. 2024; 15(5):372. Source: Environmental Health Trust