At home, I use dial-up. Am I the last one? Does anyone else know what it's like to be able to go get a cup of tea between clicks? At school, things are lightning fast. The contrast is dramatic.
Here at home we might shortly get Washtenaw Wireless, a county initiative to hookup the "most rural and outlying areas." Everyone would then have low-cost high-speed internet connectivity. Great, right?

For connecting to the wide world, great.

Has anyone heard about Colony Collapse Disorder? No, it's not about social networking, not this sort anyhow.
Bees are dying, all over the country, and in Europe, too. It's inexplicable. The hive itself will be intact and seemingly healthy. The honey supply will be plentiful; bodies of sick or dead bees are not to be found. The bees just simply disappear.

Why this isn't front page news in every major newspaper, I don't know.

Scientists are onto this. They're working to find out what in the world is going on, and are generating a lot of theories: climate, stress, pesticides, an accumulation of viruses. There's also a theory that I initially dismissed as "way out there": wireless connections may be disrupting the bees' ability to navigate or communicate.

I didn't give that theory the time of day until last weekend when I went for a walk with my neighborhood friend who's a beekeeper. I noticed a big red mark on her forehead and asked her about it.
Her response: "Oh, I should have known better. I was so stupid. My phone went off and i just answered it, right while I was checking on the hive."
"Instantly one took a dive bomb at my face and then the whole hive was alarmed. I got out of there, fast. See my stings?"
I was incredulous. "You think the phone going off made the bees mad?" (She doesn't even use the ringer, just keeps it on vibrate. She carries the phone in her pocket.)
"Without doubt. Beekeepers know (or should know, I was SO stupid) that you don't use devices around bees. Very dangerous."

After talking with her, I began wondering. What if there actually is a connection between the demise of the bees and our luxurious connectivity to wireless communications? Could this possibly be a factor in the problems the bees are having? I'm wondering if I should be quite as enthusiastic about our wild area going wireless.

Is this silly?

Tags: bees, insects, nature, science

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Oh, my. I have the opposite connection problem--my rural school can't get a good hookup, but at home in the town 15 miles away, I get the slow version of dsl...

Your question about the colony collapse and a possible relationship between pervasive wireless really makes me wonder. I'm gonna pass the post along to several people here who either beekeep or are faculty at the nearby university who would be interested, if that's ok?
Thank you--
I'd really like to hear what people are finding out about this.

Good luck with school's connection--maybe they can get a high-speed DSL sponsor!
Even a low speed dsl would be great! Thanks for the good thoughts.

What my university connection passed along:
"from the Mid-Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium based at Penn State:

Radiation transmitted by cell towers- The distribution of both affected and non-affected CCD apiaries does not make this a likely cause. Also cell phone service is not available in some areas where affected commercial apiaries are located in the west. "

In a sad way, it's a relief to think cell towers aren't to blame. I know the cell towers may be the best way my rural people can get access -- and in the future, hand helds may have enough functions to make it a viable alternative...

Thanks for the follow-up, Sue. I just read the Science Times article in the New York Times about bees. They don't mention the electromagnetic waves as a theory that's seriously being looked into, but have a lot of other investigations going. Your news is particularly noteworthy.
I've really enjoyed all of your comments and conversations!
I don't think it's silly, but I recently read the wikipedia page about this since I had seen a couple of the reports on this:

"At present the link of either cordless or cellular phones to CCD is entirely speculative, and no research has been done to suggest or demonstrate such a link between the two phenomena. Regardless, such an explanation is not compatible with the historical and present patterns of CCD appearance, which have been intermittent and sudden."
I was just talking to my students about this phenomenon yesterday. Some knew about it; some didn't. They reported that the cell phone signals may disorient the bees and entire colonies are lost. We also talked about other siutations. I did briefly think about a group of us going out into our yard around a few bees (there were several out on the clover), using a phone, and observing what the bees did. WOW--glad I didn't!!

BUT, I'd not thought about the possibilities of wireless difficulties. I was just talking to a group of educators here in KS, wondering why there wasn't more of a push to have our rural areas more connected to flatten world access for our students. Perhaps this deserves some additional investigations. I'll not fight against expanding wireless access yet, but will continue to ask the questions as we move forward. Thanks for the pause for thought.
I'm in a rural area too. We lie about a quarter mile past the end of the cable and use a satellite dish for our connection (not for TV) because my wife is a web designer who works from home. It's only about 5 miles an hour faster than dial up.
I saw a special on TV about the bee problem. The discussed lots of possible reasons including a possible virus... but no mention of wireless problems. Of course, this was one of the big three networks (since that's all we get), who are also heavily invested in wireless technology.
Hi Steve,
Thanks so much for posting this. The bees have been on my mind a lot.
Just today I had my daughter film me talking about a bee tree I found, a wild, natural, healthy bee tree--a real find. I plan to use the digital filming for some sort of class presentation, probably an iMovie.. I'm trying to get the kids to understand why bees are so important.
It's amazing that you remembered this post from such a while ago!
I think you forgot the mention how I was in mortal peril as I valiantly climbed around the tree, and past the hive in oder to film you and get a good shot...but the bees were really cool. I wonder though, would I think that if I hadn't grown up loving the nature? I always find it amazing how many people are deathly afraid of bees. why is that?
After watching The Silence of the Bees on Nature (PBS) last night, I think we may all be in mortal peril if we don't carefully monitor what we're doing that affects other creatures of the earth. You, dear daughter, were working in service of earth-kind!
More information is available here.
HI Connie-

I've been following this since the early spring, when it first hit the news out here. I saw CCD as a canary in the coal mine, and painted this painting. A beekeeper friend of mine who is also a painter kept me abreast of research. The latest seems to be that this is not a new phenomena, but a condition that strikes commercial honey bees periodically. Perhaps the size and spread of the CCD, and the fact that we all heard about it at the early stages, when it was still unrecognized, fueled our worst thoughts.

I also heard a radio show in which it was pointed out that these bees are under tremendous stress, being trucked around the country for pollenization purposes, and therefore die-off would not be that unusual. Unfortunate, to put it mildly.



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