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. 2020 Jan 16;10(1):461.
doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56948-0.

Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure of Western Honey Bees

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Free PMC article

Radio-Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure of Western Honey Bees

Arno Thielens et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) can be absorbed in all living organisms, including Western Honey Bees (Apis Mellifera). This is an ecologically and economically important global insect species that is continuously exposed to environmental RF-EMFs. This exposure is studied numerically and experimentally in this manuscript. To this aim, numerical simulations using honey bee models, obtained using micro-CT scanning, were implemented to determine RF absorbed power as a function of frequency in the 0.6 to 120 GHz range. Five different models of honey bees were obtained and simulated: two workers, a drone, a larva, and a queen. The simulations were combined with in-situ measurements of environmental RF-EMF exposure near beehives in Belgium in order to estimate realistic exposure and absorbed power values for honey bees. Our analysis shows that a relatively small shift of 10% of environmental incident power density from frequencies below 3 GHz to higher frequencies will lead to a relative increase in absorbed power of a factor higher than 3.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interests.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Studied Honey Bee Models, from top to bottom: Male Drone, Worker Bee 1, Worker Bee 2, Worker Larva and Queen Bee. Columns show different perspectives: back, front, left, top, and bottom view, respectively. The white lines show a 1 mm scale for reference.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Configuration of the RF-EMF plane-wave simulations. Twelve potential RF plane waves incident from six directions are incident on the insect (honey bee drone shown here in grey, top view). Orange arrows indicate the electric field E¯i polarizations, while the black arrows indicate the direction of propagation with wave vector k¯i/j of the plane waves. i and j indicate the simulations’ configuration number, from 1 to 12.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Five measurement locations near bee hives in Belgium: (a) Overview of the measrurement locations (source: https://www.google.com/maps, Google Maps, Google, Alphabet inc., Mountain View, CA, USA) Map data: Google, GeoBasis-DE/BKG (b) Aalter, (c) Merelbeke, (d) Eeklo, (e) Zomergem, and (f) Drongen.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Relative electric field strength in and around a mid-sagittal plane of the Honey Bee Drone at the nine studied frequencies. Grey scale shows the electric field strengths relative to 1 V/m electric field strength.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Total absorbed power (Pabs) in the five studied honey bees as function of frequency, normalized to an incident plane-wave field strength of 1 V/m at each frequency. The curves indicate the mean values over the twelve plane wave simulations, while the whiskers indicate the maximum and minimum values found at each frequency. The whiskers are slightly offset in order to avoid visual overlap but are all determined at the simulated frequencies described in the Methods Section.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Overview measurement of electric field strength (normalized to maximally measured electric field strength), between 0.8 and 6 GHz, in Aalter. The wireless technologies associated with the different peaks are indicated in the figure as well.

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