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Thread: Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

  1. #1

    Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

    Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for mysterious 'colony collapse' of bees

    By Geoffrey Lean and Harriet Shawcross

    Published: 15 April 2007

    It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.
    They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.
    The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.
    Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) occurs when a hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, leaving only queens, eggs and a few immature workers, like so many apian Mary Celestes. The vanished bees are never found, but thought to die singly far from home. The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.
    The alarm was first sounded last autumn, but has now hit half of all American states. The West Coast is thought to have lost 60 per cent of its commercial bee population, with 70 per cent missing on the East Coast.
    CCD has since spread to Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. And last week John Chapple, one of London's biggest bee-keepers, announced that 23 of his 40 hives have been abruptly abandoned.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C
    The parasites, wildlife and other bees that normally raid the honey and pollen left behind when a colony dies, refuse to go anywhere near the abandoned hives.
    This is potentially a huge problem. However, the bit I re-quoted above suggests to me that there's some other cause - if the bees simply didn't come home, what's stopping the raiders from entering the hive? One possible reason is that raiders might only enter a hive that has signs/smells of dead bees or decay in the hive. I should ask my apiarist friend about that.
    - Richard

  3. #3
    According to the Christian Science Monitor (Source), the colony collapse disorder (CCD) was first reported in Florida last fall and has since spread to 24 states. Cell phones have been around a lot longer than a year and the "spread" of the phenomenon to other states suggest a very different cause than cell phones. In my opinion, the timing and spread of CCD rules out the hypothesis or speculation (I would hesitate to grace the concept with the word theory) that cell phone "radiation" is causing the bees to die. Just the word "radiation" alone should have clued us all concerning the false sensationalism that the authors of the article are trying to foist on their readers.

    Researchers do not now know what is the cause but most beekeepers suspsect that it is a new virus or parasite, perhaps due to pesticides and genetically modified crops. The latter is a frightening possibility. In the last several years, a number of genetically modified crops were introduced. These crops are resistant to a particular weedkiller, allowing farmers to apply higher concentrations of this weedkiller than before. There is suspicion that this is the reason for the demise of so many bees.

    The occurrence of CCD also raised a very very serious problem. We currently rely almost solely on bees to pollinate all our crops. Because of the use of pesticides, habitat loss, and imported diseases, we have eliminate many of the an estimated 4,500 potential alternate pollinators, such as butterflies, wasps, and other bees. To replace these pollinators, farmers have had to rely on trucked in honeybees that have proven to be vulnerable to die-offs.

    Beekeepers are seeing hives that empty out in a matter of weeks, sometimes days. Eerily, the stored honey in the hive remains untouched, arguing against the possibility of raiding bees from nearby colonies. Although CCD has been intermittently described for over a hundred years, the magnitude of CCD is unprecedented. One apiarist, Dennis vanEngelsdorp, believes that it is a manifestation of AIDS of bees, the presence of an immune suppressor.

    France had a similar problem in the 1990's. They called it the "mad bee disease" and French beekeepers blamed it on a newly introduced pesticide marketed under the name Gaucho. This pesticide targets the nicotinic receptors on aphids. The French government banned the pesticide in 1999. However, subsequent studies have not shown a causal link and bee populations still have not recovered.

    Some are pointing to genetically modified crops, particularly those with a gene for a bacterial toxin called Bt. Although studies did not show any effects on bees, critics claim that the study had not been extended long enough and the studies did not examine bees infested with parasites. Approximately $14 billion of crops are at risk because of this bee problem. The reduction of honey production alone is $100 million. The nation's almond crop is at risk. Last year, almond-farmers harvested a billion pounds of the nuts.

    There are about a million queen bee farmers in the United States and they may not be able to meet the demand of replacing the bees. The U.S. will end up importing bees from New Zealand, Canada, Russia. These will likely bring in new diseases and parasites to the existing bee population. In fact, foreign parasites such as bee-eating varroa mites or the pesticides used to kill them may contribute to CCD (Source).

    Unfortunately, some people are taking advantage of this bee problem and coming out with article against cell phones, pesticides, or genetically modified foods. In my opinion, this problem is likely to be the beginning of the demise of genetically modified (GM) crop industry. The problem is that it is not enough to say that they don't know and there is no evidence that the GM crop is not causing the bee loss. They must prove that their crops are not responsible. That is hard to do. Fear will do the rest.

    Fear is running rampant. In a comment on one blog (Source, for example, there is the following doomsday statement:
    CO2 is the least of worries now. A worse case secnario is an immuno comprimised honey bee, infected with every kind of virus imaginable, that can’t find it’s way home.

    We could very well be watching the entire food chain falling apart right now. I heard a figure once. Something like 3 out of every 4 bites of food you take, you owe to the honey bee. We cannot replicate what they do. There is simply no substitute for trillions upon trillions of honey bees world wide, pollinating an area of hundreds of thousands of square miles. If we don’t lock this thing down soon, They will become extinct, and we’ll follow shortly after.
    This is serious but neither bees nor we are at the edge of extinction.


  4. #4
    i have a big tree buy the house that has a huge honey bee colony. 2 or 3 times a year a huge amount will swarm buy another tree for couple days. day time they fly around. the swarm is about 6' around 10' high. really cool to see. at night they all make a big glob of bees. maybe 1' or so around. after couple days they just dissapear. well my house is very tall with 2' overhang soffits and twice now in the 15 years i have lived here. the lazy SOB's figured the house was great place to set up shop lol. well had to waste them , can't have bees living in my house.
    oh well

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kenf
    ...the lazy SOB's figured the house was great place to set up shop...
    Sons of a Bee?
    - Richard

  6. #6
    wow, scary
    Get involved in politics as if your life depended on it, because it does. -- Justin Dart

    I shall not tolerate ignorance or hate speech on this site.

  7. #7
    I agree that it is most likely due to a virus possibly caused by pesticides and/or genetically altered crops. The first time I heard about this was on Bill Maher, of all places.

    Could you imagine how much people would belly ache if they had to give up cell phones? I think there are some that would rather starve then give up their little phone addiction, but we survived without cell phones for a LONG time.

  8. #8
    Latest info: CoxFoster Testimony here.

    Nothing about cell phones.
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

  9. #9
    Thanks. Cell phones get blamed a lot for things. If cell phones were toxic, we should have seen the effects by now.

    In the early 1990's, I was a consultant to Verizon (it was called NYNEX, I believe). They brought me along to town hall meetings where there was usually some quack doctor who claimed that cell phones and their "radiation" caused cancer. In many cases, they would get the community so scared that they would refuse to give permission for the installation of a cell phone tower.

    At one community meeting in upstate New York, I was in a face-off with the fire-chief of a town. This man claimed that the installation of a cell antenna tower in the town would lead to a rise in cancer. The debate ended when I asked him whether he had a radio for communicating with his fire station in his car.

    It turned out that he not only had a high-powered radio for communication but also had a radar gun. These devices probably are delivering to him over a million times the typical intensity of radiofrequency waves that a cell phone radio tower antenna would. Sigh.


  10. #10
    "So I have stayed as I am, without regret, seperated from the normal human condition." Guy Sajer

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