Sanding our assholes with 150 grit. Slowly. Lovingly.

latest on those bees: cell phone towers to blame

Interesting conclusion about the bees:

http://news.independent.co.uk/environment/wildlife/article2449968.ece

In a public battle between bees and food versus society's addiction to cellphones, I know which will win.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 16th, 2007 12:32am
Yup, the cell phones will win, until the price of bread goes up far enough.

But it could get ugly.  Gosh, I guess those farmers renting out part of their corn fields to cell towers are regretting it now, huh?

The Law Of Unintended Consequences strikes again!
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 9:39am
Interesting article.  Amid a LOT a BS, it has a couple of interesting factoids.  (A factoid is something that states a fact, but may or may not be true)

<quote>
German research has long shown that bees' behaviour changes near power lines.

Now a limited study at Landau University has found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby. Dr Jochen Kuhn, who carried it out, said this could provide a "hint" to a possible cause.
<end quote>

I scoffed at the RF theory when I first heard it.  And I scoff at that "cook an egg between two cell phones" myth.  But it's possible some high-pitched sound (intermediate frequency or something) can come from the cell phone that would disturb the bees.

I mean, we've had cell phones for several years now, but only last fall did beekeepers notice the sudden abandonment.  What changed last September?

I don't know, but if *I* were a beekeeper, I wouldn't carry a cell phone while working anymore.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 9:45am
> I scoffed at the RF theory when I first heard it.

Why? RF is EM which effects real things in the real world.

This research will go the same way as every other inconvenient fact. Denial. Denial Denial. Denial. Where is my bread? Invention of nanotech assembly gloop nutrient paste. Last bee dies in a museum watched on the internet by billions of people. A poet creates a poem that still brings people to tears thousands of years hence.
Permalink son of parnas 
April 16th, 2007 10:08am
"I mean, we've had cell phones for several years now, but only last fall did beekeepers notice the sudden abandonment."

[nod]

Add in that cell phones today are lower power than cell phones in past years. I'd also like to see an analysis of cell phone penetration vs. hive abandonment spread.

Something else I'd be looking into - what's Monsanto been up to lately?
Permalink Send private email Philo 
April 16th, 2007 10:12am
> but only last fall did beekeepers notice the sudden abandonment.

Not so. We've been hearing about bee problems for several years now. As more and more towers have been built.
Permalink son of parnas 
April 16th, 2007 10:16am
Because the phrase "RF is EM which affects things in the real world" is an invocation of magic.

It takes a hugely varied and complex phenomenon -- "EM", electro-magnetism, says that it "affects things", then uses that to conclude cell-phones are hazardous because they use RF.

Electro-magnetic waves cover everything from 10 hz low frequency to AM radio kHertz to FM Megahertz to microwave ovens to infrared light to visible light to ultraviolet light to x-rays on up.

The amount of power in most RF systems is tiny.  AM radios, FM radios, TV signals, cable systems, all pick up very small power signals.

Microwave ovens only work because they are tuned to be in the frequency that water molecules pick up.  That, and the energy in a microwave oven is HUGE -- 1500 watts?  That's what a radar that reaches 250 miles uses.  You shouldn't use that as an indication of the danger in a 2-way radio.

And "life" systems aren't very sensitive to RF energy.  With the right huge power, and the right frequency, they can be affected in tiny ways. 

Having said all that, it's a possibility honey-bees are sensitive to something related to cell-phones.  I would think "Sound" more likely than "RF", since "life" systems DO react a LOT to sound.  Whatever, further research is definitely indicated.

But just to accept "Oh, RF is dangerous, I bet it's confusing the honeybees" is ignorant on so many levels.  That's like saying "Oh, my car won't go, I bet the engine just fell out" when in fact you're out of gas.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 10:21am
> It takes a hugely varied and complex phenomenon -- "EM",

It's actually quite singular. Photons are emitted and we call it EM.

> And "life" systems aren't very sensitive to RF energy.

LOL. Your comprehensive survey on all life should be  a fascinating read. Especially when there's a German study showing the opposite. But sure, it's sound.
Permalink son of parnas 
April 16th, 2007 10:25am
>This research will go the same way as every other inconvenient fact. Denial. Denial Denial. Denial.

I'd rather see denial early on than having knee-jerk overreactions to every half-ass correlation between two things. If we chased every preliminary finding of who are often shortcut following, attention seeking researchers, we wouldn't be doing anyone or anything a favor.

Maybe we should wait for something even remotely conclusive?

As Allan mentioned, we've had continent wide cell phone coverage, at least here in North America, for at least 15 years. In the past 6 or so years the actual power has dropped as the high power analog network is upgraded to lower power digital network.

So why the sudden impact on bees? It doesn't seem reasonable at all.
Permalink DF 
April 16th, 2007 10:41am
you have a general problem with almost anything to do with the life force, which is that correlation != causation is always applicable.

There is still a lot about life that we don't understand, in terms of basic mechanisms. Hell, they are still arguing about the molecular structure of water as it crystallises. There is lots we don't know.

For any field where you don't yet understand the mechanisms, and hence causation, you have to sniff around whatever correlations you can find. Essentially, speculation with an open mind.

I still believe in being a bit cynical though.
Permalink $-- 
April 16th, 2007 10:50am
> There is still a lot about life that we don't understand

We do know about evolution, though. And how it passes around (or rather: passes a few organisms through) whatever environmental challenge comes up.
Permalink Send private email strawberry snowflake 
April 16th, 2007 10:55am
There you go.  If you have "Trust, but verify", you can also have "Be cynical, but verify."

I'll also say, when I heard there might be a cell-phone connection that was keeping bees from finding their way back to the nest, I did think "Wow, that would explain a lot."

Now we need some more research to figure out the phenomenon.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 10:55am
the trouble is, it can mislead the hell out of you.

I remember something about correlation between leukemia rates and a nuclear power station in Britain. IIRC, some smart dude eventually figured that the same correlation also existed for other areas that had lots of migrant workers.

Beware obvious conclusions, is about all you can say.
Permalink $-- 
April 16th, 2007 10:59am
Cellphone towers don't explain this:

> 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.

That's bizarre. It's like the mark of Cain. Poor queen bees, just sitting there lonely, their biological clock ticking, stuffing themselves with Ben & Jerry's Miss Honeypenny ice cream. No one, not even parasites want to touch them. Sigh.

Naw, really, I think there's a correlation between hive abandonment and the spread of the Fergalicious ringtone. Those drones are sitting in a marigold somewhere zoning out.
Permalink Send private email strawberry snowflake 
April 16th, 2007 11:11am
I bet you hate freedom, snowflake.
Permalink $-- 
April 16th, 2007 11:13am
>Maybe we should wait for something even remotely conclusive?
Like tobacco? Which took about 100 years, in the face of widespread propaganda by BigTobacco, for the public to finally accept that it was harmful?

http://www.amazon.com/Toxic-Sludge-Good-You-Relations/dp/1567510604
http://www.amazon.com/Trust-Us-Were-Experts-Manipulates/dp/1585421391

I'm not so sure that sound is involved as bees don't have ears. When bees do their "the flower is over there" dance, the others are picking up the vibrations through their legs.

>Imidacloprid is, for example, present as a main (or the sole) active ingredient in concentrations between five and ten percent in three out of the four most widely used flea treatment and preventative topical treatments for dogs in the United States; these manufacturers claim an effective killing persistence of at least four weeks. The compound is also used for flea treatment on cats, whose livers have only limited detoxification ability compared to dogs and humans.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid

Imidacloprid "persists" for at least 2 years in soil. This means that the soil your pet walks/rolls in contains Imidacloprid for at least 2 years.

The French have been having problems with what we now call CCD since the late 90s.

>Bayer then agreed that the insecticide may cause disorientation of bees at levels above 20 parts per billion of the active ingredient. Recent studies by researchers at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) suggest that bee behaviour is affected at levels between 3-16 ppb or possibly even 0.5 ppb.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imidacloprid_effects_on_bee_population 

>In 2001, Bayer also brought a judicial case against Maurice Mary, one of the leaders of the French association of beekeepers for disparagement of the chemical Imidacloprid. The action was dismissed by the judge in May 2003.
In the US, we call that a SLAPP suit, meant to shut critics up and bankrupt them with legal fees.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SLAPP
Permalink Peter 
April 16th, 2007 11:29am
>Like tobacco? Which took about 100 years, in the face of widespread propaganda by BigTobacco, for the public to finally accept that it was harmful?

Yes, exactly like tobacco -- someone saying "Hrmmm...cell phones have become more popular while bees have declined" is *just like* the mountains of links between cancer and smoking.

Exactly like it, in fact. Can't see a difference.

THE DECLINE OF CIGARETTE SMOKING IS CAUSING NICOTINE ADDICTED BEE COLONIES TO DIE OFF!
Permalink DF 
April 16th, 2007 11:31am
> I bet you hate freedom, snowflake.

Yes, I hate freedom because it hurts so awful bad. Now tell me the why of your comment? I'm curious.
Permalink Send private email strawberry snowflake 
April 16th, 2007 11:39am
That's because the "normal raiders of bee hives" are raiding as usual.  That 'not going near' passage is complete BS.

What the reports HAVE said is that it's not an increase in 'normal raiders' that explains the CCD problem.  But the reports have NOT said "normal raiders don't go near", that's a mis-interpretation of the reports.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 11:41am
I was just messing about because of your "evolution" post. Actually I like quite a lot of your posts.
Permalink $-- 
April 16th, 2007 11:45am
well, the evolution, followed by the ringtone thing, which was a bit wacky.
Permalink $-- 
April 16th, 2007 11:46am
>IS CAUSING NICOTINE ADDICTED BEE COLONIES TO DIE OFF
Imidacloprid is based on nicotene. Jams up that nicotine receptor.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinic_acetylcholine_receptor
Permalink Peter 
April 16th, 2007 11:56am
Ooh, and they DO use 'smoke' to quieten the bees so they can take their honey.

There may be a connection.  Que the Twilight Zone music.

ooo weee ooo!
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 11:58am
I don't need no stinkin bees to make a BLT, do I?
Permalink blahty heartsheep 
April 16th, 2007 12:19pm
Yes, yes you do.

Bees pollinate the corn, that the pigs eat, to make the 'B'.  I'm not sure the Lettuce needs pollination, but I'm sure the Tomatoes do.

Oh, and the bun or bread is made from wheat, which bees pollinate.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 12:49pm
Funny, I've never seen a hive in the middle of a corn or wheat field. Or bees for that matter.
Permalink blahty heartsheep 
April 16th, 2007 12:59pm
http://encarta.msn.com/encyclopedia_761556359/Pollination.html

> Some plants simply allow their pollen to be carried on the wind, as is the case with wheat, rice, corn, and other grasses, and pines, firs, cedars, and other conifers.

same article ...

> Wild populations of honey bees are nearly extinct in some areas of the northern United States and southern Canada. Domestic honey bees—those kept in hives by beekeepers—have declined by as much as 80 percent since the late 1980s. The decline of wild and domestic honey bees is due largely to mite infestations in their hives—the mites eat the young, developing bees. Bees and other insect pollinators are also seriously harmed by chemical toxins in their environment. These toxins, such as the insecticides Diazinon and Malathion, either kill the pollinator directly or harm them by damaging the environment in which they live.
Permalink blahty heartsheep 
April 16th, 2007 1:04pm
I'm positive that wheat and corn (like most grains and conifers) are wind polinated. The "smokey mountains" get their name from the clouds of pollen that pine trees dump into the air. If you park under pine trees "in season" you'll end up with lots of yellow dust on your car.
Permalink Peter 
April 16th, 2007 1:16pm
Yes, corn and grains are wind pollinated, that's why it does best in big areas. Every individual kernel has to be separately germinated through that silky stuff, which is a DNA conduit to each kernel.

Wasps and other insects can pollinate tomatoes and the like, but they don't do as good a job as bees, and it's not possible to transport them around.

You might be able to deal with the almond and fruit orchards by encouraging wasps, but many wasps will eat the fruit like crazy when it is ripe, so it's not a great solution.

Loosing bees will mean big changes in diet, but it won't be the end of the world. Food will become a lot more dull though. No tomatoes will be a big one.

Still though, you'd be able to raise tomatoes at home and hand pollinate them if you want to.
Permalink Practical Economist 
April 16th, 2007 2:35pm
D'oh!

Well, thank you for that, I must say I am relieved.  For a minute there, I thought people might starve for awhile before we got "factor-x" resistant bees.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
April 16th, 2007 3:43pm

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