The electromagnetic fields existing in electrical towers (electricity transmission line supports) alter the life of the bees present in the surroundings and hinder their pollination work, with the consequent negative effect on the habitat as a whole, according to a study carried out by carried out by researchers from Chile and Argentina whose results have been published in the journal Science Advances.
Various previous studies have provided data on problems in the life of bees in areas with electromagnetic fields generated by power lines and the possibility has even been suggested that this is one of the reasons for the mortality of bees and the decline of this group of species of great value in the pollination of crops and wild plants.
The main novelty of the study that is now being disseminated, in addition to the fact that it was published in a scientific journal of recognized prestige and high impact, is that its authors state that they provide "conclusive evidence of the detrimental impacts of electromagnetic fields on pollination behavior of bees, which generates negative effects on the plant community".
The research team behind the new study, headed by Marco A. Molina-Montenegro, from the Integrative Ecology Center of the University of Talca (Chile), recalls that, as has been shown in previous research, bees move and orient using natural electromagnetic fields, so they can be affected by the presence of electromagnetic fields that can be considered artificial. In this particular study, the responsible biologists and ecologists chose to use power pylons (rather than power lines) as the reference because they had access to similar pylons without active power lines, allowing for comparisons.
The researchers first counted the number of poppies blooming around the active towers and the towers that were inactive; they found that there were far fewer flowers around the active towers. The researchers also measured the electromagnetic fields around multiple towers to find out how strong they were at various distances.
Simultaneously, the scientists collected several specimens of bees flying at different distances from a tower and measured the levels of a protein called HsP70 in their bodies. The authors recall that the presence of this protein has been shown to be related to stress in bees. The results of the study show that higher levels of HsP70 were found in bees that worked closer to active electrical pylons.
In a second phase of the study, the research team collected other bee specimens some distance from any tower or line and brought them to their laboratory for study under controlled conditions.
The bees were exposed to different amounts of electromagnetic radiation and then measured for expressions related to 14 genes known to be associated with navigation, stress and the immune system. The research found differences in 12 of the genes in bees exposed to electromagnetic radiation.
The team ended their study by venturing out into the field once more to study bees working near electrical pylons. Thus they discovered that the frequency of visits to the nearest flower that was closest to an active electrical tower was approximately 300% lower than in areas where there were no towers through which electricity passed.
The group concludes that electromagnetic fields around power pylons have a detrimental impact on bee pollination and, by extension, the surrounding plant community.