In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

The Big Bee Death

Posted by seumasach on February 12, 2009

The Big Bee Death

Click on above link to see graphics, charts, etc. 

 

Issue 4 April 2007 

 

The mysterious disappearance of 

entire bee colonies, which has been ob- 

served for several years in many countries, 

could soon have grave consequences for 

agricultural production.  

Last March, various European and US news- 

papers reported a strange phenomenon: 

Worker bees did not return to the hive, which 

resulted in the death of the brood and the 

queen. Science has even come up with a 

name for this phenomenon: „Colony Collapse 

Disorder“ (CCD), which describes an as yet 

unexplained disturbance in the behaviour of 

the bees.  

Meanwhile, unusual colony losses are reported 

from many countries worldwide, including 

Switzerland, half of all US American States, 

Canada, Austria, Germany, South Tyrol, 

Spain, Poland and New Zealand. 25 to 50% 

of US American beekeepers reported 

losses due to CCD [1]. During the past six 

months, 50 to 90% of their bees had disap- 

peared, and the remaining colonies were so 

weak that they could hardly produce any 

honey [2]. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 [2]. Already in 2006, US American honey 

production decreased by 11%.    

In Switzerland, the situation is similar. As early 

as 2006, the Swiss Research Institute for Ani- 

mal Husbandry and Dairy Farming ‚Agroscope’ 

(Federal Agency for Agriculture) reported that 

all of Switzerland was affected by the bee 

deaths, however, different regions were af- 

fected to different degrees. Jean Daniel Char- 

rière of Agroscope estimated that the coun- 

trywide losses in the year 2003 numbered 

around one quarter of the population [3]. 

From 2004 to 2006 the losses were in a 

similar above average range [4]. 

The television programme “10 vor 10” broad- 

cast on 21 March 2007 by the Swiss Channel 

SF1 did not mention numbers, but it indicated 

that the trend seems to be continuing this year. 

Dr. Peter Gallmann of Agroscope discussed 

many possible causes, but dismissed all of 

them as vague and not very likely. 

 

The Search for the Cause 

When researching this issue, a variety of pos- 

sible causes can be found, but none of these 

can explain the occurring phenomena in a 

satisfactory manner:  

 An exceptionally cold winter does not 

seem to have been the crucial factor, ac- 

cording to Agroscope [3].  

 Genetically modified plants, the pollen of 

which could potentially damage the bees 

do not (yet) exist in Switzerland.  

 Monocultures, such as they cover large 

areas of the United States, do not exist in 

Switzerland. 

 Toxic Pesticides have been in use for 

several decades. However, the bee deaths 

are a very recent occurrence. 

 

“Imagine waking one morning to find 80 per cent 

of the people in your community are just gone,” 

says May Berenbaum of the University of Illinois, 

regarding the CCD phenomenon [1].  

 

 

 

 

 

diagnose-funk   Tobeleggweg 24  8049 Zürich  Tel/Fax 0041 43 535 7001 http://www.diagnose-funk.ch 2 

 Varroa mites: Although the resistance of 

bees has suffered in the last ten years (ac- 

cording to bee researcher Jürgen Tautz 

from the Biozentrum of the University of 

Würzburg, Germany), the beekeepers 

could not find as massive a Varroa infesta- 

tion as it was the case in the late Eighties. 

Furthermore, with Colony Collapse Disor- 

der, it often takes several weeks until the 

dying hive is taken over by moths and 

other pests [5]. 

 

Secretive Research 

One possible cause, so far overlooked by the 

Swiss Authorities, are electromagnetic fields. 

The Austrian Federal Ministry for Agricul- 

ture and Forestry, Environment and Water 

Management, however, wrote as early as April 

2006 to the National Counsel Dr. Andreas 

Khol:  

„Scientific research has found evidence 

that electromagnetic fields can have nega- 

tive effects on bees. “ (…)Studies have shown 

that bees exposed to strong electric fields of 

over 4 Kilovolt/m, e.g. directly under a 380 kV 

high voltage line, produce less honey and 

show increased mortality. (The guideline for 

the protection of humans from the exposure to 

these fields is set at 5 kV/m)“ [6]. 

 

 

The following studies corroborate the 

statement of the Austrian Ministry: 

 As early as the Seventies, biophysicist Dr. 

rer. nat Ulrich Warnke of the University of 

Saarbrücken, Germany, found  that bees 

showed stress reactions under the influ- 

ence of low frequency fields. When ex- 

posed to signals in the frequency range of 

10 to 20 KHz, increased aggression and 

a reduced capability to return to the 

hive was observed. [7] 

 In 1974, the Russian researchers Eskov 

and Sapozhnikov found that bees generate 

electromagnetic signals with a modulation 

frequency between 180 and 250 Hz when 

they do their communications dances. (It is 

important to note that our GSM mobile sys- 

tem is modulated with 217 Hz). Hungry 

bees react to those frequencies by erect- 

ing their antennae [8].   Warnke reported 

that the communication impulses of the 

antennae when touched by a fellow bee 

can be measured with an oscillograph [9]. 

 In 2005, a group of scientists of the 

University of Koblenz-Landau headed by 

Prof. Hermann Stever conducted a pilot 

study to research the ‘returning behaviour’ 

of bees as well as the weight and surface 

development of the comb under the influ- 

ence of electromagnetic radiation [10]. 

Four out of eight colonies were exposed to 

DECT phone base stations which were 

put into the hive and constantly emitted 

radiation.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 1: This graph 

shows the field 

strength in the four 

DECT exposed and 

the four unexposed 

hives of the Koblenz- 

Landau study, as 

estimated by Diag- 

nose-Funk. In this 

pilot study, the hives 

were not shielded 

against electromag- 

netic fields, which 

resulted in some ex- 

posure of the unex- 

posed colonies, al- 

though this exposure 

was less strong than 

the one occurring in 

the near field of the 

DECT stations.  

 

 

 

diagnose-funk – The big bee death  – 4. April 2007  3 

The comb weight and surface devel- 

opment of the colonies exposed to the 

DECT phone was significantly slower, 

than that of the “unexposed” colonies 

(see Fig. 4). In order to examine the “re- 

turning behaviour“, various bees of each 

hive were marked with colour dots and 

released at a distance of 800 meters to 

the hive after a minimum DECT exposure 

period of five days [11]. There were sig- 

nificant differences in the time needed 

for returning to the hive between the 

“exposed” and “unexposed” bees. 

(see Fig. 3). 

 

 

  Fig. 4: Weight and surface development of the comb (from [10]). 

 

 After extensive follow-up studies to the pilot study of 2005, Prof. Stever and his team examined 

the returning behaviour of bees exposed to DECT phones again in 2006 [13]. This time, the bee 

hives were screened from each other by using a small meshed metal lattice and they were posi- 

tioned in a random order in order to balance out any unwanted external influences. The flight dis- 

tance was reduced to 500 meters [14]. It could be assumed that the exposed colonies would 

have found it easier to find back to the hive because of the shorter distance. However, the return- 

ing behaviour of the exposed bees was statistically significantly different from the returning 

behaviour of the unexposed bees (see Fig.5). With regard to the phenomenon of „Colony Collapse 

Disorder“, it needs to be asked whether the area-wide, all pervasive, but weaker radiation from 

mobile telecommunications is able to disturb the sense of orientation of the bees in a similar way 

to a five day exposure to the near field of a DECT phone in the hive..   

 

Fig. 2: Bee Hive with DECT base station 

 (Photo from [13]). 

 

Fig. 3:  Return times of sample colonies with and without 

DECT phone in the hive. A total 40% of bees from “un- 

exposed” hives returned to their hive, whilst only 7% of 

“exposed” bees returned [15]. Chart taken from [10]).  

 

 

 

diagnose-funk – The big bee death  – 4. April 2007  4 

 

 

Fig. 5:  Significant difference between the returning behaviour of exposed and unexposed bees. The 

higher the index, the larger the number of returning bees and/or the shorter the return time. 

(Chart taken from [13]). 

 

Experiences of Beekeepers 

Prof. em. Dr. Ferdinand Ruzicka, who is a 

beekeeper himself and has contributed to a 

variety of beekeeping journals, has assembled 

a wealth of experiences from his own observa- 

tions and questionnaires to other beekeepers. 

He says: “The problems only appeared 

since several transmitters have been in- 

stalled in the immediate proximity to my 

hives.” After this event, he published a ques- 

tionnaire in the Beekeeping Journal „Der Bie- 

nenvater“ 2003/9 [15]:  

 The question whether a mobile phone 

transmitter was within a 300m radius of 

the hives was answered affirmatively in 

all 20 replies.  

 The question whether the bees displayed 

more aggressive behaviour after the in- 

stallation than before was answered af- 

firmatively by 38% of the respondents.  

 The question whether the bees showed a 

greater inclination to swarm after the in- 

stallation was answered affirmatively by 

25% of the respondents. 

 The last question regarding unexplained 

colony collapse was answered affirma- 

tively by 63% of the respondents.  

According to Ruzicka’s observations, the bee 

colonies are so weakened by the mobile tele- 

communications radiation that they become 

more prone to various diseases, a fact that 

can also contribute to colony collapse. This is 

because bees are considered to be very fragile 

creatures, just like butterflies whose numbers 

have also dramatically fallen during the last 

few years. However, according to Dr Ruzicka, 

15 years ago, bee colonies were able to 

deal with a much higher degree of Varroa 

mite infestation than they are able to cope 

with today. 

 

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ): 

„Bees live longer“… 

Directly or indirectly, bees are responsible 

for around one third of all human food pro- 

duction, since without pollination, agricultural 

produce (such as fruit and vegetables, but also 

grains for feeding livestock) cannot thrive. We 

already know that the extinction of bees can 

lead to considerable complications. However, 

warning reports in the Swiss daily newspaper 

Tagesanzeiger and in the TV programme “10 

vor 10” were immediately countered by the 

Neue Zürcher Zeitung with denials and an all- 

clear. [16]. The headline: „Bees live longer“ 

[4].  

The attentive reader cannot help but notice 

that this is always the case where a news 

 

 

 

diagnose-funk – The big bee death  – 4. April 2007  5 

story affects the interests of an industry 

and potentially threaten a lucrative busi- 

ness (for example tobacco, sugar, microwave 

ovens etc.). When Diagnose-Funk contacted 

the Federal Agency for Agriculture, with a 

query regarding the bee deaths, the Agency 

replied by referring to the trivialising article in 

the Sunday NZZ. Yet, why is it that American 

farmers are already trying to pollinate their 

orchards with the help of giant ventilators? 

[5]. A farmer from Pennsylvania tried to take 

bee colonies for 15’000 Dollars to California in 

order to help pollinate the almond trees, but 

when he arrived there, not a single colony was 

alive. [5]. 

 

Evi Gaigg, diagnose-funk,  

translated by Andrea Klein 

 

 

 

References  

 

[1]  „Where have all the bees gone?“, New Scientist, 22 March 2007. 

http://www.newscientist.com/channel/life/mg19325964.500-where-have-all-the-bees-gone.html 

[2] „The mysterious death of the honey bees“, CNN Money, 29 March 2007.  

http://money.cnn.com/2007/03/29/news/honeybees/index.htm. 

[3] „Rätselhaftes Massensterben“, Zürichseezeitung, 5 May 2006. 

[4] „Schweizer Bienen leben länger“, NZZ am Sonntag, 25 March 2007.  

[5]  „Sag mir, wo die Bienen sind?“, Tagesanzeiger, 14 March 2007, http://tages- 

anzeiger.ch/dyn/wissen/umwelt/729927.html ) 

[6]  Federal MinisterJosef Pröll in his reply dated 27.4.2006 to the President of the National Council 

Dr. Andreas Khol, Parliament, 1017 Vienna 

[7]  Warnke, U.: Physikalisch-physiologische Grundlagen zur luftelektrisch bedingten „Wetterfühlig- 

keit“ der Honigbiene (Apis mellifica). Diss. Saarbrücken 1973 

[8]  Eskov, E. K., Sapozhnikov, A. M.: Mechanisms of generation and perception of electric fields by 

honey bees. Biophysik 21(1976)6, 1097-1102. 

[9]  Popp, F.A., Warnke. U., König, H.L., Peschka, W.: Electromagnetic Bio-Information, München: 

Urban & Schwarzenberg 1989 

[10]  Stever, H. , Kuhn, J., Otten, C., Wunder, B., Harst, W. : Verhaltensänderung unter elektro- 

magnetisher Exposition. Landau: Arbeitsgruppe Bildungsinformatik, http: //agbi.uni-landau.de. 

[11]  Co-Autor Dr. Jochen Kuhn im Interview mit dem IZGMF, 

http://www.izgmf.de/Aktionen/Meldungen/Archiv_05/bienen/bienen.html. 

[12]  E-Mail des Co-Autors Wolfgang Harst vom 31. März 2007 an Diagnose-Funk  

[13]  Stever, H., Kimmel, S., Harst,W., Kuhn, J., Otten, C., Wunder, B.: Verhaltensänderung der Ho- 

nigbiene apis mellilfera unter elekromagnetischer Exposition. Landau: Arbeitgruppe Bildungsin- 

formatik. http: //agbi.uni-landau.de. 

http://www.izgmf.de/Aktionen/Meldungen/Archiv_05/bienen/bienen.html 

[14]  E-mail of the co-author Wolfgang Harst dated 29. März 2007 to Diagnose-Funk. During the pilot 

study with 1000m distance, no bees arrived back to the hive. This is why the releasing distance 

was shortened to 500m in the following study, a fact that had not been corrected in the 

documentation of the study. 

[15] http://www.mikrowellensmog.info/bienen.html and correspndence with Diagnose-funk.  

[16] „Wird die NZZ zum Sprachrohr der Mobilfunkindustrie?“ http://www.diagnose- 

funk.ch/politik/00000098130868502/033ea298c80012205.html.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: