Phorgy Phynance

Colony collapse disorder

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Colony collapse disorder is another issue I blabber about to anyone who will listen. I remember the first time I heard about it was on the way to work in an interview with May Berenbaum (Go Illini!!) on NPR.

Bee Deaths, Loss of Navigation Cause Concern

The first thought that ran through my head was the possible impact of electromagnetic radiation on the bee’s ability to navigate. When I got to a computer, it didn’t take long to determine that electromagnetic radiation can in fact impact the ability of the bee to navigate similar to the way some birds use the earth’s magnetic field for navigation.

With the web, anybody can become an “instant expert” on any subject. For example, if you want to become an expert on bee navigation and electromagnetic fields, follow this link.

One of the first things you’ll find is this:

Magnetoreception System in Honeybees (Apis mellifera)

If you forgive the English, which you should because China is far more advanced than the US when it comes to electromagnetics research (two years working in ballistic missile defense, six years of graduate school at probably the best EM research group in the world gives me some confidence in that statement), then here are the first two paragraphs of the introduction (my emphasis in bold):

The waggle dances of honeybees communicate the information of direction and distance from the hive to a new food source was first hypothesized by von Frisch [1]. Subsequent studies show that the information of distance depends on optic flow (retinal image flow) perceived in the flight to the food source and is conveyed by the duration of the waggle dance [2][4]. The information of direction, on the other hand, depends on the angle between the heading to the food source and the sun azimuth and is conveyed by the angle between the waggling segment of the dance and the vertical [5]. Bees use different compass for navigating in a complex environment. Besides the azimuthal position of the sun [5], a polarized light compass is also employed [6][7] and landmarks may also be useful when days are cloudy [8]. Other sensory cues have been suggested as orientation reference in the framework of bee navigation. Among them, the information provided by the magnetic field has been repeatedly invoked to account for bee orientation performances [9][22].

Magnetoreception of honeybees has been proposed on the basis of numerous behavioral evidences. They can be summarized as follows: The behavioral changes in comb building, and homing orientation when extra magnetic field is added [10][12], [17], [19], [20]. Tiny magnets glued to the honeybee abdomen near the region of known magnetite concentration in the anterior dorsal abdomen interfere with magnetic discrimination in choice experiments [21]. Free-flying honeybees are able to detect static intensity fluctuations as weak as 26 nT against the earth-strength magnetic field [22]. Honeybees’ behavior in T-maze experiments is affected by a brief magnetic pulse [17], which is a unique ferromagnetic effect. Free-flying honeybees can be trained in discrimination experiments to respond to local magnetic anomalies [15], [17], [21][23]. Free-flying honeybees are able to detect alternating fields (430µT) at frequencies of 10 and 60 Hz [18]. These evidences suggest that biomagnetites (Fe3O4) may be present as magnetoreceptor, which plays a crucial role as a transducer of the magnetic field information.

When I discuss radiowaves as a possible explanation for CCD, I feel a little self conscience as if people will think I’m a crackpot. Fortunately, I don’t really care too much about that 😛

My PhD was essentially in the physics of radiowaves and I wasn’t exactly a sloucher in grad school. I think I have a pretty decent understanding of what impacts radiowave propagation and what kinds of impacts radiowaves can have.

One reason people blow off radiowaves as a source is that cell phones have been operating for a long time and CCD has only been observed fairly recently. That logic is flawed because early cell phones for which all those tests were performed operated at a frequency of about 900 MHz. Fairly recently, that was bumped up to 1.9 GHz. Oops! That is a bit high for my comfort actually and is beyond the frequency of most of those earlier tests. The real thing that is even more recent is the emergence of Wi-Fi hotspots in your home, at Starbucks, and all over the place. That phenomenon has only occurred recently and Wi-Fi (and the coming WiMax) operate at a frequency of 2.5 GHz. What?!?

There certainly has NOT been sufficient testing at 2.5 GHz. I’m waiting for one medical journal to publish a paper that will take down the entire wireless internet industry.

One thing that I haven’t seen ANY test look at (not even those early tests at 900 MHz) is the impact of resonance. Resonance is a powerful thing. Remember those stories of the bridge that started wobbling uncontrollably and finally crashed down? That was resonance. A little amount of energy supplied consistently gets amplified exponentially until *kabloom!*

Here’s a video of the Tacoma bridge:

Anyway, I need to run for now, but I’ll definitely come back to this topic!

I do think that the emergence of Wi-Fi and wireless devices operating above 2 GHz likely has something to do with CCD and I’ll expand on my reasons later.

Happy Friday!!


Written by Eric

July 13, 2007 at 4:07 pm

One Response

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  1. Hi there,

    I love it that you posted this. I wondered the same thing myself – about the relationship between honeybees disappearing and the emergence of rampant wi-fi connections. I remember a few years ago – the same year me and a neighbor got a very powerful wi-fi connections – there was e was one day where I walked out into the street and noticed there were bees everywhere, like they were just going nuts, and I always wondered why they were doing that, like if something in the atmosphere might have been disturbing them.

    Then last year I had a cherry tree that had a ton of blossoms on it but it only produced three cherries. A local garden supply salesperson told me it was because there weren’t enough bees around to pollinate the flowers. I thought, how did we go from having bees everywhere outside just a few years ago, to no bees anywhere in my back yard. It made me wonder about whether there was something in the air that could have driven them away, and that made me think of wireless connections.

    It’s good to find someone who’s done the research. I want to see how this pans out… I hope we can find an answer soon!



    March 17, 2008 at 2:59 pm

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