Mobile phones can be found almost everywhere across the globe, upholding a direct point-to-point connection between the device and the broadcast tower. The emission of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) puts the surrounding environment inevitably into contact with this radiation. We have therefore exposed honey bee queen larvae to the radiation of a common mobile phone device (GSM band at 900 MHz) during all stages of their pre-adult development including pupation. After 14 days of exposure, hatching of adult queens was assessed and mating success after further 11 days, respectively. Moreover, full colonies were established of five of the untreated and four of the treated queens to contrast population dynamics. We found that mobile phone radiation had significantly reduced the hatching ratio but not the mating success. If treated queens had successfully mated, colony development was not adversely affected. We provide evidence that mobile phone radiation may alter pupal development, once succeeded this point, no further impairment has manifested in adulthood. Our results are discussed against the background of long-lasting consequences for colony performance and the possible implication on periodic colony losses.
Keywords: Apis mellifera; GSM; Honey bees; Mobile phone radiation; Ontogenetic queen development; RF-EMF exposure.
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