In The News: Are Cell Phones Killing Honeybees?

Reader Contribution by Samantha Collins
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Yet another of America’s summertime insects started to drastically disappear in the past years–the honey bee. According toCNN, a new study shows that radiation from cell phones may be disrupting a bee’s natural ability to navigate.

The study consisted of one particular experiment held at the Panjab University in northern India. The scientists attached cell phones to bee hives that were activated for 15 minutes, twice a day. After about three month, they discovered that the bees no longer produced honey, the hive decreased in size and the Queen’s egg production also decreased in numbers. The researchers now believe cell phone radiation negatively affects the bee’s ability to navigate back to their hives.

Almost 35 percent of the honeybee population disappeared in the United States from October 2009 to April 2010, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Services. But, radiation from cell phones isn’t the only thing hurting the bees. You can also blame pesticides and climate change. Some even believe that a new parasite or virus may be attacking the bees. But no one really knows the true reason as to why these bees are vanishing from their hives.

The bee hive is starting to become more empty as the years go on.
Photo by Max xx/ Courtesy Flickr

Scientists coined the term “Colony Collapse Disorder” to describe this phenomena. But, the disappearance of bees is not the problem only at hand. According to the USDA, bees pollinate about $15 billion worth of crops a year, especially almond plants and other berries, nuts and fruits. So without honeybees, the economy, and the ecosystem, may suffer even more.

Thanks to certain companies, the bees have hope for the future. You can even help by simply eating ice cream. Haagen-Dazs, a company whose natural flavors contain more than 40 percent “bee-built flavors,” says every time you buy a carton of a “bee-built flavor” (there are more than 40 flavors) a portion of the money goes to Haagen Dazs’ Help the Honey Bees organization. The organization devotes itself to understanding CCD and, if possible, learning how to stop it. You can also go to the make a direct donation online.

Burt’s Bees partnered with the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign to help promote more research and awareness concerning CCD through the Honeybee Health and Improvement Project. The two organizations have passed out 95,000 packets of wildflower seeds that resulted in thousands of planted flowers around the country. This act also helped thousands of people learn about the importance of honeybees in nature.

Now that you’ve learned about CCD and all its affects on both the economy and ecosystem, here are few things you can do to your garden to make it bee-friendly.

According to Ecosalon, you should choose plants that bloom at different stages to help provide a more constant source of food for honeybees. Also, only plant native flowers and avoid using pesticides and insecticides. Instead, you should use more organic insect repellants in your garden so you don’t harm honey bees. (Learn more about bee-friendly gardening techniques.)

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