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As you may well have read in the Press recently there has been a lot of concern about the "unexplained" way that many - up to 3/4 - of bee hives have disappered over the winter months in the UK and much of the developed world.

This is less of a surprise for some German Scientists who have been investigating the effects that Mobile Phone Masts and similar wireless technologies have upon the navigation skills and overall well being of bees for some time.

The USA has noted the phenomena of "Colony Collapse Disorder" (CCD) where bee colonies die out since the late 1990s. It is striking to see that states affected by CCD are almost all States which include large population centres or border on to large population centres. Large population centres do tend to have more mobile phone masts (in the US they are called "cell towers") and higher emissions i.e. "coverage" as the Mobile Phone Companies would call it.

One particular US location of CCD we have seen mentioned is where the hives were situated to the South-East of Portland, Oregon. In this specific case there are particularly large masts / Cell Towers in proximity, with a high mobile phone signal intensity (i.e. best coverage from one of the US operators' own map) present in the area. The signal intensity could well be significant in the area of the hives and could therefore be responsible for the mysterious disappearance of the bees.

Dr. George Carlo of the "Safe Wireless Initiative" and former head of the WTR Mobile Phone Research organisation in the late 1990s was on "Good Morning America" yesterday morning [16/04/2007] discussing the possible link.

The best and clearest Scientific information so far is German (another due is from Switzerland), mainly using DECT (digital cordless) phones. (DECT phones use hand sets and "base stations". These base stations are the equivalent of mobile phone masts. They operate using microwaves at a frequency of 1.9 GHz and transmit up to 100m away. Mobile Phone Masts use microwave frequencies of 0.9 / 1.8 GHz for GSM "2G" and 2.4 GHz for "3G" over several hundred metres).

There is an English translation of the study which may be downloaded from here .

In Summary the study found the following:-
* 2 beehives were unexposed and 2 beehives were exposed to a DECT base station (i.e. the equivalent of a mobile phone mast).
* 25 bees were selected from each beehive and released 800 meters away.
* Unexposed beehives: 16 and 17 bees returned after respectively 28 and 32 minutes.
* DECT-exposed ones: 6 bees returned after 38 minutes to one hive. The other hive remained deserted.
* In the exposed beehives, there were 21 per cent fewer honeycomb cells constructed in the hive frames after 9 days.

Basically the majority of bees whose hives were in proximity to the microwave radiation from the base stations just abandoned their hive and were not seen again. The few bees that eventually returned were less able to produce honey.

It is the use of DECT in the study coupled with the fact that DECT is thought of by most people as cordless phones which explains why the newspaper articles have mentioned "Mobile Phones" and "handsets" instead of their "base stations" and masts. It is the masts and base stations which affect the wider area which are likely causing the problems with the bees, not specific peoples' phones.

Obviously the situation is potentially extremely serious.

It may or may not have been Einstein who said "If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live. No more bees, no more pollination ... no more men!" but whoever it was could well be correct.
The price for having mobile phones may have just increased to the price of the planet and the survival of the entire human race. Is the price really worth it?
Read More on bees here
 
Read the excellent "The Big Bee Death" translated from the "Brennpunkt" Swiss article here (pdf).
 
Read the scientific information from I-SIS here