Plants and Wildlife
Flowers get an electrifying buzz out of visiting bees
New Scientist, Life, 21 February 2013
Plants could turn out to be one of the more chatty organisms. Recent studies have shown they can communicate with a surprising range of cues. Now it turns out they could be sending out electrical signals, too.
As they fly through the air, bees – like all insects – acquire a positive electric charge. Flowers, on the other hand, are grounded and so have a negative charge. Daniel Robert at the University of Bristol, UK, and colleagues set out to investigate whether bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) were able to make use of these signals.
To test the idea, the team created artificial flowers, filling some with sucrose and others with quinine, a substance bees don't feed on. To start with, the bees visited these flowers at random. But when a 30 volt field – typical for a 30-centimetre-tall flower – was applied to the artificial blooms containing sucrose, the team found that the bees could detect the field from a few centimetres away and visited the charged flowers 81 per cent of the time. The bees reverted to random behaviour when the electricity was switched off.
"That was the first hint that had us jumping up and down in the lab," says Robert. The result suggests the bees may use the electric field as an indicator of the presence of food, much like colour and scent do. In the absence of a charge, they forage at random.
Quantum biology: Do weird physics effects abound in nature?
BBC News and BBC Radio Science Unit, 28 January 2013
Disappearing in one place and reappearing in another. Being in two places at once. Communicating information seemingly faster than the speed of light.
This kind of weird behaviour is commonplace in dark, still laboratories studying the branch of physics called quantum mechanics, but what might it have to do with fresh flowers, migrating birds, and the smell of rotten eggs?
……Experiments show that European robins only oriented themselves for migration under certain colours of light, and that very weak radio waves could completely mix up their sense of direction.
Mobile phones ARE to blame for killing off the world's bee populations, scientists claim
Daily Mail, 11 May 2011
Phone signals confuses bees and cause them to begin flying erratically before suddenly dying.
For some, the mobile phone is the bane of modern life even as it.
But for bees it could be more than just an irritation.
Scientists claim to have proved that signals from mobile phones are behind the sudden decline of the world's bee population, which plays a vital role in both agriculture and horticulture.
Is Wi-Fi killing trees? Dutch study shows leaves dying after exposure
Daily Mail, 25th November, 2010
As if our magnificent trees didn’t have enough problems, they’re now being threatened by our emails. When they’re not being assailed by some foreign bug or moth, there’s often a council official looking for an excuse to cut them down. Now researchers say radiation from Wi-Fi networks that enable our burgeoning online communications may be their latest enemy. Research in Holland showed that trees that were planted in close proximity to a wireless router suffered from damaged bark and dying leaves.
The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment
Council of Europe
Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs
Joint Hearing 17. September 2010
Dr. rer. nat. Ulrich Warnke
Institute Technical Biology and Bionics, Science Park, Saarbrücken
Presentation in German and English is available here
Tree diseases are spreading across the country
BBC News, 4 November 2010
There has been an unprecedented rise in the number of tree diseases spreading across Britain.
Forestry experts say some of our best known species are under attack and thousands have already been felled to try to bring the problem under control.
Honeybee researcher who blames virus for CCD has financial ties to pesticide manufacturer
Natural News, 13 October 2010
The New York Times recently published a story on a new report that claims to have discovered one of the primary causes of colony collapse disorder (CCD), a condition in which entire colonies of bees mysteriously die. But the report, which pins a fungus and virus combination as the culprit, was headed by a researcher with financial ties to Bayer Crop Science, the creator of pesticide products that are also linked to CCD.
Wageningen University launches project
Horticulture Week, 10 September 2010
Wageningen University and research centre's laboratory of plant cell biology has launched a new project looking at the effects of electromagnetic fields on trees.
The study aims to establish a cause for widespread tree damage that three years of research has so far been unable to diagnose. In a statement, researchers said biological factors had all but been ruled out and they would build on last year's exploratory work in Alphen aan den Rijn, which developed the hypothesis that electromagnetic fields could be to blame.
Riz gets bee buzz right - Experiment shows fallout of mobile radiation
The Telegraph, India, 27 May 2010
Concerns that cellphones pose a threat to honeybees, articulated by Shah Rukh Khan’s character in My Name Is Khan, have now been bolstered by Panjab University zoologist Neelima Kumar’s experiments.
Electromagnetic radiation from cellphones appears to alter the behaviour of bees, her experiments suggest and add fresh evidence to observations reported by a team of German researchers seven years ago.
Honeybees exposed to cellphone radiation appear to lose the ability to return to their hives and queen bees produce a lower number of eggs, according to the new findings that appeared yesterday in the journal Current Science from the Indian Academy of Sciences.