Are cell phones killing all the bees?

I’m predicting no. But there are some folks who say bees are being killed off by excessive cell phone radiation.

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.

Color me skeptical. Cell phones have been around for decades now. Bees have just started dying out. Unless there were a massive spike in the number of cell phones in use in the past year, I’d label this claim improbable. Luckily for me, there are others who doubt this theory as well. This way, I won’t be the only one looking foolish if cell phone radiation does turn out to be the culprit. But I’m not too worried that will happen:

Many beekeepers are skeptical of the reports or at least how they’re adding up. For 100 years, beekeepers have logged periodic reports of sudden and inexplicable bee die-offs.

People refer the latest die-off by its initials “CCD,” but one Georgia beekeeper instead calls it the “SSDD” crisis for “Same Stuff, Different Day.”

“People have lost bees from the beginning of time,” Sowers said. . . ..

Most empty hives have been discovered at large, commercial migrating bee farms – and that has led some beekeepers to theorize that it’s the stress of being trucked cross-country that’s killing the bees.

“The (bee’s) instinct is to go out and collect pollen and nectar, and that’s what they do. When they can’t get out of the hive, it puts them under stress. They need to go to the bathroom on a regular basis, but they won’t go in their hive,” said Ken Ograin, an Elmira beekeeper. . . ..

Finally, beehives simply die. Scattered reports of large-scale mortality date from 1915, 1960 and 1987. Scientists don’t always know why.

“This may be a repeat of that situation where we simply don’t figure it out,” said Morris Ostrofsky, president of the Lane County Beekeepers Association.

In fact, some farmers say they are puzzled about the dire news stories appearing in local, state and national media in the past several weeks.

“It’s not new this year,” Williams said. “If you know what I mean.”

So yes, that skepticism thing I’ve got going on looks pretty reasonable right now. Of course, if I’m wrong and we all die because of this in a few years, I’ll apologize on the other side.

[tags]Are cell phones killing all the bees (hint: probably not), Theory on massive bee die-off: cell phones did it![/tags]