Visakhapatnam: Natural honey will become dearer and the next generations may have to content with factory-made artificial honey with population of bees dwindling across the country. Experts say high range of radiation levels being released by cell towers and mobile phones are making honey bees forgetful of their famed memory, resulting in their not returning their combs.
According to the research studies, the cause of the sudden decrease in bee population is radiation released from the cellular towers and mobile phones. The signals from the mobiles and towers are not only confusing the bees, but also sounding a death knell to them.
Though this is not the new discovery, the phenomenon, which has so far been confined itself to developed countries so far, has now reached to alarming stage in India also. Andhra Pradesh is one of the top 10 states producing natural honey from both forests and rural areas.
However, in the past one decade, there has been a drastic fall in collection of honey from the rural and forest areas. According to reports, the natural honey collection from rural areas in the state has fallen by 75 per cent and from the forest area by 50 per cent.
The worker bees (male) three weeks after emergence will start the collection of nectar and come to the honey comb to feed the baby bees. The worker bee after collecting the nectar will store it in its stomach called crop. The queen bee life span is two to three years, while the worker bee life is seven weeks at the most.
According to the research studies, worker bees are observed to fly one to six kilometre usually to collect nectar and come back safely to the combs to deposit it. Normally, a minimum of 20,000 bees will maintain the bank of nectar in a comb. Though the bees fly to long distances for collection of nectar, they have the ability to come back safely without any confusion to their own comb.
However, owing to factors like rapid urbanisation and climate conditions, honey bees have vanished in urban areas. In Andhra Pradesh, dwindling of bee population has been observed since 2005 in rural areas. Tribals, who are engaged in collection of honey in Agency areas, are saying they are finding honey combs very rarely these days.
“Now-a-days, we are not finding much honey combs in the Agency areas. Earlier, several people are engaged in the business. But, now we are not seeing much honey combs. Reasons are not known, but collection of honey has come down by 50 per cent,” lamented Killo Demudu of G Madugula mandal. Demudu is one of the experts in handling bees.
“Yes, the bee population has down due to the cellular towers and mobile phone radiation. With high range of radiation, worker bees are confused in returning to their own combs to feed baby bees.
With this baby bees are dying on a larger scale. Honey collected in forests is considered to have high medicinal values. However, as cellular towers have come up and mobile phones are being used in even forest areas, the population of bees has come down drastically,” says Prof B Bharatha Lakshmi, Department of Zoology, Andhra University.
In developed countries, the scientists are collecting the honey by arranging exclusive vans giving shelter to the bees. The vans will drove into the farm lands where bees will be released from the vehicle. However, the process is costly. In India those practices are not adopted so far, Bharatha Lakshmi added.