There’s an article on UK’s The Independent website about a most unusual scientific theory.
“Cell Phones kill bees.”
From the article: 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. They say the cell phone emissions cause the bees internal navigation systems to go haywire and they can’t find their way back to the hive.
Ok, just two problems; Bees navigate by the sun. You can watch a video of how this works here. And, we’ve had cell phones since the late 80’s, microwave radiation of all kinds since the 40’s, and worldwide radio emissions of all sorts and frequencies since about 1920. So why is this “problem” showing up just now?
More likely this has to do with the fact that domesticated honeybees, the kind we have in California are quite inbred compared to wild bees. Domesticated bees are being raised to survive a shorter off-season, to be ready to pollinate once the almond bloom begins in February. That has most likely lowered their immunity to disease and parasites. This can happen in any kind of biological population that is artificially isolated from natural selection, which allows the strong to survive and propagate. In the case of domesticated bees, they are packed together in boxed clusters, which makes disease and parasites spread very quickly. In nature, hives are well separated.
In fact, there are two types of parasitic mites, introduced into the USA in the 1980’s which are believed to be responsible for this epidemic. Here’s a letter to Congress from May R. Berenbaum, Head of the Department of Entomology, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign that describes the problem in-depth and concludes: “That honey bees are experiencing losses on an unprecedented scale, however, was essentially predicted by the report—over-reliance on one managed non-native species is inherently unstable.”
In insects, which have short generation lifespans measured in days or weeks, dilution of strong traits to disease and parasite resistance can happen fairly quickly. What’s needed is some new breeding programs and better isolation methods, not cell phone panic.
The offspring of the bees that survive this epidemic will do far better.
This seems reminiscent of the artificial worry about a cell phone tower at the Hooker Oak park. Some people just have to paint technology they don’t understand as the boogieman. I can visualize some panic driven loony legislation about cell phones and bees to hit our state legislature soon.
But to point out just how silly this is, I work at radio station KPAY-AM 1290 which has its offices on Cramer Lane. Right next door, no more that 500 feet from the powerful 5000 watts radio transmitter is a man who keeps bees. Bee hives are scattered all over his property. I’d think that if there was a radio energy to bee death link, this fellow would have been pounding on our doors long ago.
The “research” that cell phones kill bees is just junk science. Next I expect we’ll hear about cell phones and talk radio stations being linked to global warming for “heating up the atmosphere”.
Thanks to my lovely wife Stacey, for helping me out with this article.