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Honeybees and Mobile Phones · 2007-04-15

This is a nice little story that could easiely become top notch before CA-MRSA in my eternal list of possible apocalypse causes. It could have been a great science fiction plot but it happens. Here is how it goes. For some years now bees in the U.S. and by now in Europe as well mysterically abandon their hives leaving the queen and the eggs alone. First result: The colony dies. Next result: the bees do not pollinate crops anymore. Here are some figures on on the extend of the phenomenon:

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.

The phenomenon is called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and has got the potential to affect future harvests and hence our nutrition dramatically. According to The Independent the first scientist that offers a possible explanation, or at least a first hint, and some empirical data is Dr. Jochen Kuhn from The University of Koblenz-Landau who carried out a study on the hive-returning-behaviour of honeybees if mobile phones were placed nearby the hive. Results suggest that bees may more frequently refuse to return to their hives if mobile phone radiation is emmitted nearby.

bee in front of antennas

If you speak german here is a short paper on the topic compiled by a swiss group that fights mobile phone radiation. The paper cites a few studies on the influence of radiation on the behaviour of bees.

Update: instapundit collects sceptical comments on the issue, which sure is a good thing to do.

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