How Electric Fields Affect Honey Bee Metabolism: Semi-Field Study

Jim Crocker
30th May, 2024

How Electric Fields Affect Honey Bee Metabolism: Semi-Field Study

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study, conducted at Wroclaw University, found that exposure to 50 Hz electric fields can cause immediate and lasting changes in honey bee gene expression
  • Certain genes showed dysregulation immediately after exposure, and some changes persisted even 7 days later, indicating potential long-term effects
  • These gene expression changes could impact honey bee metabolism, stress response, and immune function, potentially affecting their overall health and colony stability
The investigation of the effects of artificial 50 Hz electric field (E-field) frequency on Apis mellifera, commonly known as the honey bee, is a relatively new field of research. Honey bees are crucial pollinators, and their decline poses significant ecological and economic risks. Understanding how environmental stressors, such as E-fields, affect them is critical. This study, conducted by researchers at Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences, aimed to identify potentially dysregulated gene transcripts in honey bees that correlate with exposure time and duration to E-fields[1]. Previous studies have already shown that E-fields can impact honey bees' behavior and physiology. For instance, exposure to a 50 Hz E-field has been proven to cause changes in bee behavior, alter the activity of key enzymes, and disturb protein metabolism[2]. These alterations include decreased activity of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in bee hemolymph, indicating potential impairment of crucial metabolic cycles[2]. Additionally, E-fields have been linked to changes in the antioxidant system, with varying intensities of the field affecting the activity of enzymes like superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT)[3]. The current study expands on this body of research by examining the long-term effects of E-field exposure on honey bees. Specifically, researchers assessed gene expression immediately after exposure to the E-field, as well as 7 days after exposure, to determine whether the effects are permanent or transient. This approach provides a more comprehensive understanding of how E-fields impact honey bees at a molecular level. To conduct the study, honey bee workers were exposed to a 50 Hz E-field at various intensities. Gene expression was then analyzed using advanced molecular techniques to identify any dysregulated transcripts. The researchers found that certain genes were indeed dysregulated immediately after exposure, suggesting an immediate response to the E-field. Interestingly, some of these changes persisted even 7 days after the exposure had ended, indicating potential long-term effects. The findings suggest that E-field exposure can lead to lasting changes in honey bee physiology. This is significant because it implies that even short-term exposure to E-fields could have prolonged effects on bee health. The dysregulation of gene transcripts could potentially affect various biological processes, including metabolism, stress response, and immune function. By identifying specific gene transcripts that are affected by E-field exposure, this study provides valuable insights into the mechanisms underlying the observed physiological changes. For example, the decreased activity of enzymes like AST, ALT, and ALP observed in previous studies[2] could be linked to the dysregulation of genes involved in metabolic pathways. Similarly, changes in the antioxidant system[3] could be explained by the altered expression of genes related to oxidative stress response. In conclusion, this study highlights the potential long-term effects of E-field exposure on honey bees, adding to the growing body of evidence that electromagnetic fields are a significant environmental stressor. The identification of dysregulated gene transcripts provides a molecular basis for understanding how E-fields impact bee health, paving the way for further research in this area. Given the importance of honey bees to ecosystems and agriculture, these findings underscore the need for careful consideration of the impact of electromagnetic fields on pollinators.

GeneticsBiochemAnimal Science


Main Study

1) Metabolism gene expression in worker honey bees after exposure to 50Hz electric field - semi-field analysis

Published 29th May, 2024

Related Studies

2) Effect of the electric field at 50 Hz and variable intensities on biochemical markers in the honey bee's hemolymph.

3) Changes in the Honeybee Antioxidant System after 12 h of Exposure to Electromagnetic Field Frequency of 50 Hz and Variable Intensity.

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