CHANDIGARH, India, July 2 (UPI) -- Scientists in India say they are examining a possible cause of declines in bee populations around the world -- cellphones.
A study looking at "electropollution" of the environment says radiation from the ubiquitous communication devices is having a negative impact on honeybees, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
Researchers at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India, placed cellphones near a beehive and powered them up twice a day for 15 minutes over a period of three months.
The result, the scientists say, is honey production ceased, the queen laid only half as many eggs and the number of bees in the hive decreased dramatically.
"Increase in the usage of electronic gadgets has led to electropollution of the environment," wrote Ved Prakash Sharma and Neelima Kumar, the authors of the report in the journal Current Science.
"Honeybee behavior and biology has been affected by 'electrosmog' since these insects have magnetite in their bodies, which helps them in navigation," the researchers wrote.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the bee population last year dropped 30 percent.
Scientists call the phenomenon, occurring around the world, "colony collapse disorder." Theories on its cause range from viruses to parasites, insecticides and malnutrition -- and now, possibly, cellphones.