It Is NOT Official – Very Little Evidence Links Bee Deaths to Cell Phones

This is a fascinating case of what happens when you DON’T check the original sources.  I know, this has happened to me as a blogger.

It’s Official – Cell Phones are Killing Bees

Of course, their article came from

Mobile phones ARE to blame for killing off the world’s bee populations, scientists claim

Read them both and notice something interesting… they don’t link to the article that they appear to have gotten their information from.  Which, as near as I can determine, is this one.

Mobile Phone-induced Honeybee Piping

Some notes of interest about this article

  • It appears to be self-published and therefore probably not peer-reviewed*
  • It draws extensive conclusions from limited data
  • No where in the article do the words ‘death’, ‘die’, ‘dying’, or ‘killed’ occur**
  • In fact, no actual deaths were recorded after 20 hours of exposure
  • In fact, no swarming occurred, even after 20 hours of exposure

Which means that the conclusions of all those articles about this particular paper are wrong.

What this article is, is a pretty good initial test and some good jumping off points for further research and that’s about it.

BTW: In case you’re wondering what ‘piping’ is… well, so am I.  It’s not explained in the article very well, though it seems like a signal that bees give off before swarming.  Unfortunately, I can’t find any external reference that uses this… although I admit I didn’t try very hard.  If wiki doesn’t have it, then I’m not worried about it… that’s the least of these articles problems.

________________________________

*At least one comment in the paper would cause it to be sent back for editing by the author and resubmitted.  And if I can find one comment, then a reviewer could probably find more.

** The word ‘death’ occurs in one reference, but not in the original.

This entry was posted in Biology, Culture, Environment, Research Blogging, Science, Skepticism, Society and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to It Is NOT Official – Very Little Evidence Links Bee Deaths to Cell Phones

  1. poogy1680 says:

    Excellent breakdown. I was very skeptical of the wording of that particular article especially because nothing was really cited. Thank you for your skeptical eye!

  2. Emily Heath says:

    Thanks for pointing this out. As a beekeeper I’m much more worried about varroa mites, destruction of habitat, pesticides and pollution than mobile phones! I doubt mobile phone signals help but they’re not the main issue we’re facing.

    Piping is a type of vibratory noise made by honey bees to communicate with each other. A queen produces it by pressing her thorax against comb and vibrating her flight muscles; workers do it by pressing their body against another bee. The Queen pipes at various times in her life, for instance before swarming and when she first emerges from her queen cell she pipes to announce her presence to the workers and any rival queens who might be present. See http://www.webworldarticles.com/e/a/title/What-is-piping-behavior-of-honey-bees/ for more info.

  3. ogremkv says:

    Thanks for the information on piping.

    One other thing that I recall from the original is that he specifically stated that the queen didn’t seem to be affected.

  4. Kenneth Westervelt says:

    Thank you for posting your best guess of the source material. I try to be skeptical of claims like these as well, and appreciate that somebody else did the footwork to turn up more concrete information. Hats off to you!

  5. Kenneth Westervelt says:

    Here is the link to a different study in India: http://www.ias.ac.in/currsci/25may2010/1376.pdf

    This one specifically mentions the effect on honey production and egglaying. I don’t enough about experimentation to say whether or not it meets peer-review standards.

  6. ogremkv says:

    Interesting, thanks for the additional article. Just a brief review:

    I’m not familiar with “Current Science” so I’ll have to check up on it. Letters generally aren’t peer-reviewed though.

    On the other hand, this article seems to contradict some of the Favre article. Although it does seem to be more interested in long term effects, which are just as important as the short term ones.

  7. Daniel Favre says:

    Statement to the Press

    from

    Dr. phil. nat. Daniel Favre
    Biologist and apiary adviser

    and concerning the peer-reviewed scientific article entitled
    “Mobile phone-induced honeybee worker piping”
    Apidologie, DOI: 10.1007/s13592-011-0016-x
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/bx23551862212177/fulltext.pdf
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    “Active mobile phone handsets have a dramatic impact on the behavior of the bees, namely by inducing the worker piping signal ”

    “In natural conditions, worker piping either announces the swarming process of the bee colony or is a signal of a disturbed bee colony”

    “For future experiments, in complement to the present original study and in order to reach more “natural” conditions, mobile phone apparatuses should be placed at various increasing distances away from the hives”

    “We should ask ourselves, whether the plethora of mobile phone masts also have an impact on the behaviour of the honeybees”

    “Among other factors such as the varroa mite and pesticides, signals from mobile phones and masts could be contributing to the decline of honeybees around the world ; I am calling the international scientific community for more research in this field. ”

  8. ogremkv says:

    Dr. Favre,

    It’s a pleasure to have you visit. I hope you understand that my criticism is not directed at you, but at the fear-mongers that report things that you didn’t say in your paper.

    I think it is an important study and that significant extensions should be done. A couple of my questions that should among future studies would be

    1) Is it the sound of the cell phone or the EM frequencies (repeat experiment with speaker disconnected).

    2) Compare various technologies (LTE, HDPA, eHDPA, CDMA, etc)

    3) What power of the specific EM frequency is disruptive over various time periods (this would tell us the distance that the cell phones and/or towers can be before disturbing bee behavior).

    4) I’d also like to see an extension on species behavior (various honey and bumble bee species).

    Again, I think this is a good start, but much more needs to be done before declaring “It’s official, cell phones kill bees”

  9. John Harding says:

    Hello,

    Please ask yourself, `Why were honeybees dying before mobile phones?`

    Fact, beehives in the Uk reduced from 1 million to under 500,000 between 1900 and 1950, all before mobiles phones or masts.

    There is something else and I have found the answer, google my name `johnharding/honeybees`.

    John

  10. certainly like your website but you need to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your
    posts. Many of them are rife with spelling problems and I find it very troublesome to
    inform the truth nevertheless I will surely come back again.

  11. W E Harrison says:

    To John Harding
    There was the gradual increase in RF transmissions, and High voltage power lines , and use of radar all over the country during the early- mid 20th Century
    Wendy

  12. John Harding says:

    Hello Wendy
    Sorry the honeybee demise is nothing to do with RF transmissions.

    It would appear I am the only beekeeper on this site who clearly knows what honeybees need and what they are dying from.

    Honeybee colonies have been dying before any man-made product, in fact you can go back to the very first person who found honey and took bees away from their natural habitat.

    Science is looking for a “today answer” to a problem that started thousands of years age.

    Please contact me direct and I will send you my manuscript that explains fully the real answer that has been self-inflicted. I can`t be fairer than that.

    One day professional science will catch up with a passionate beekeeper that uses observation in the field rather than false conditions in a laboratory using bumblebees rather than honeybees. Laboratory scientist have never found anything conclusive therefore an opinion is formulated to an assumption to what is happening in the wild environment. The media use this opinion which is then repeated and repeated so becomes alleged media fact which the reader then becomes an expert on something they know nothing about.

    harding@clavies.freeserve.co.uk

    John Harding

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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s