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Friday, April 20, 2007

Killer Cellphones Destroy Bees

Friday's Urban Legend: Probably FALSE

An article in our local newspaper (The Toronto Star) suggests a link between the mass kill off of bees and cellular phones [Cellular phone uses linked to bee deaths]. A similar report appeared in The Independent in the UK [ Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?].

Here's the problem. There are reports in Canada and the United States of disappearing honey bees. Apparently, entire colonies are being abandoned. The phenomenon is somewhat localized. In Canada, for example, excessive bee loss is only reported in central British Columbia and the Niagara peninsula in Ontario. The phenomenon is called colony collapse disorder.

If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.
.... Albert Einstein

This quote appears in several newspaper articles and on many blogs. Snopes is on to it and so far there's no proof that Einstein ever said this [Einstein on bees].
We are told that "German researchers" have linked cellphone radiation to the disappearance of bees. The business reporter checked with Martin Weatherall to see if this is correct. Who is Martin Weatherall, you might ask?
Weatherall, a retired Toronto police officer who was forced out of his Woodstock, Ont., home after high levels of radio waves from nearby hydro-electric poles and cellphone towers made him electro-hypersensitive, is better able than most to understand the German study, which shows that bees refuse to return to their hive when cellphones are placed nearby.
Near the end of the story in the Toronto Star the reporter also checks with Ernesto Guzman, an expert on bees at the University of Guelph in Ontarion, Canada. Guelph is one of the top schools in veterinary medicine and agriculture.
Despite the new German research, bee researchers remain skeptical of the impact of radio waves on bees. They claim it is just one of several theories that include global warming and genetically modified crops.

"All of these are speculation. They deserve to be investigated. They are good hypotheses, some of them. Others are out of reality, in my opinion," said Ernesto Guzman, associate professor with the University of Guelph's department of environmental biology.

Guzman, a specialist in bee research, says he believes stress is the major factor in the situation south of the border while in Canada a combination of poor weather on fall food supply levels and an influx of mites is the likely cause.
Personally, I will take Guzman's word over that of a retired police officer suffering from "electro-sensitivity." If I were writing the headline it would be "Cellphone link to bee deaths discredited by expert." I guess it all depends on how you want to frame spin the article.


  1. The German researcher, Jochen Kuhn, who has been studying the possible effect of cell phone and other elecromagnetic radiation on bees for over a decade now never claimed (or even implied) that the recent die offs were caused by cell phones.

    That was a pure fabrication on the part of those writing the article.

    Kuhn is a very careful researcher who is trying to determine if such radiation might effect bees and if so, what the mechanism might be. If a such a link were found, it might have implications for other living things (including humans).

  2. The spin doctor is IN.

  3. Didn't you hear, they also cause brain cancer. :)