Have you heard the news? In just the last ten years or so, the world's honeybee population has taken a huge dive--and nobody seems to know why. I found this out myself recently by reading an article called "Bees Feel the Sting: The buzz on the worldwide decline in honeybee populations," which appeared as the lead story in the September/October 2011 issue of Science Illustrated. According to this article, a group of French biologists is attaching tiny microchips to honeybees to track their daily behavior patterns in an effort to learn what's killing them. Suspected causes of the unprecedented global honeybee dieoff include pests, predators, disease, pesticide sprays, climate change, and mobile phones. One single factor can be enough to do the bees in, as researcher Cedric Alaux of the Laboratoire Biologie et Protection de l'abeille admitted to Science Illustrated: "We cannot rule out that there is one single factor behind it all that influences the bees in a negative way."
To identify that factor, the key question we should ask is: What on earth has changed so drastically in the last ten years that would cause billions of honeybees to perish? There has been no drastic change in nature or the global environment that can adequately explain this occurrence. Honeybee pests and predators have been around for centuries, and although their numbers have fluctuated, their populations have not exploded recently as far as I know. Diseases have similarly come and gone. Our climate has been changing recently, but not so drastically or in such a short time period as to explain the mass disappearance of a single insect species.
Thus we can reasonably rule out any natural causes for the world's honeybee population plunge, and it makes sense to look for the culprit among possible artificial (i.e. manmade) causes. Although pesticide sprays have been in use for decades, their worldwide use has not increased dramatically in recent years; if anything, it has declined as the popularity of organic farming continues to grow.
The only other suspected manmade cause of the honeybees' death is mobile phones (i.e. cell phones)--or, more precisely, the radio waves emitted by cell phones. Here we're on to something, because in the last ten years the world's use of cell phones has exploded dramatically, and an ever-growing global network of cell phone transmitter towers established to meet this demand now continuously fills much of the Earth's air with a thick invisible web of electromagnetic radiation. Moreover, the negative effects of this artificial radiation on living organisms are already well known and documented by scientists. (Take, for example, the well-established link between increased cell phone use and increased rates of human brain cancer.) Furthermore, the steepest declines in honeybee populations have been observed in the United States and Europe--where cell phone use is greater than anywhere else in the world.
Nothing matches the worldwide decline in honeybee population like the worldwide increase in cell phone transmissions during the same time frame. Thus, it is reasonable to draw a link between the two and theorize that the former is the main cause of the latter.
But, some might say, the basis for this supposed theory is rather circumstantial. Is there any real, convincing evidence for it? Yes, there is. In a study conducted last year, researchers at Panjab University in Chandigarh, India fitted cell phones to a beehive and activated them twice a day for 15 minutes each. Within three months, honey production had ceased, the queen laid half as many eggs, and the hive population had fallen significantly. (See "Study links bee decline to cell phones," at http://articles.cnn.com/2010-06-30/world/bee.decline.mobile.phones_1_bee-populations-cell-phone-radiation-ofcom?_s=PM:WORLD)
But the effect of cell phone towers on bees is even more drastic than that of individual phones. Barbara Hughes, a columnist for the Catholic Virginian who has been visiting the Franciscan monastery at Mission San Luis Rey in California, recently visited a Benedictine abbey near the mission. She related the following in the August 22, 2011 edition of the paper:
One of the monks, who has been a bee keeper at the Abbey for 40 years, explained how until numerous cell phone towers were constructed on the back of their property, he had been collecting 100 gallons of honey a week.