15 April 2007

Where Do Honey Bees Go, Can They Find Their Way Home?

Bees are remarkable insects, capable of remarkable feats of navigation and communication. But is a form of human communication--the cell phone--causing honey bees to lose their way home? Human food crops depend on bees for pollination and propagation. If necessary, could humans find it in their hearts to give up their cell phones?
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.

Other apiarists have recorded losses in Scotland, Wales and north-west England, but the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs insisted: "There is absolutely no evidence of CCD in the UK."

The implications of the spread are alarming. Most of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees. Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

Where do honey bees go
Can they find their way home
To the open arms
Of a hive that's waiting there?

And if the plants need pollen
Where do they get the pollen
If the mobile phones
Drive all the bees away?

Apologies to Whitney Houston

We probably need to learn a lot more about our interdependencies with the rest of the animals and plants. If your continued eating required it, could you put away your cell phone?


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Blogger StaticNoise said...

In a heartbeat!

Monday, 16 April, 2007  
Blogger al fin said...

You may be in the minority, Craig.

It is quite eerie to walk across a campus observing thousands of students striding between buildings, each of them interacting only with the cell phone in their hand.

Many of them would probably give up eating before giving up their cell.

The true explanation for bee disappearances is most likely something else than cellphones, but it does make an amusing story as long as it is not true.

Tuesday, 17 April, 2007  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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