Monday, May 30, 2011

Are Cell Phones Killing the Honey Bees?

New experiments find that cell phone signals may confuse bees
...according to the UN, local drops in the bee population are being reported by beekeepers all over the planet. And the whole thing may be our fault:A new paper (PDF) from Swiss researcher Daniel Favre claims that part of the problem is our obsession with cell phones.

According to Favre, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, phone signals may confuse honeybees so much that they become fatally disoriented. Favre and his team performed 83 experiments that recorded honeybees' reaction to nearby cell phones in off, standby, and call-making mode. The result: Honeybee noise increases by 10 times when a phone call is made or received. Normally, an increase in noise, or "worker piping," is used as a signal for bees to leave their hives. But in this case, it just makes them confused. Favre explains:
Worker piping in a bee colony is not frequent, and when it occurs in a colony, that is not in a swarming process, no more than two bees are simultaneously active (Pratt et al. 1996). The induction of honeybee worker piping by the electromagnetic fields of mobile phones might have dramatic consequences in terms of colony losses due to unexpected swarming.
A similar report in 2007 showed that bees won't come back to their hives when cell phones are placed nearby--another hint that handsets disrupt bee orientation. There isn't too much we can do about this without dismantling our cell phone culture, and that's never going to happen. In any case, neither of these studies conclusively prove that cell phones are behind all the recent bee deaths...
 I'm ready to give up my cell for the honey bees; how about you? And I don't even eat honey...

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