Richard Fagerlund is a man you can trust. Politicians, bankers, automotive industry executives… you can’t always be sure; but you ask a question of Richard Fagerlund and you’re going to get a straightforward answer. He gets a lot of questions. Fagerlund, AKA The Bugman, is a syndicated columnist, author and entomologist who has been involved with pests and pesticides for about four decades. He fields questions, in a column (Ask The Bugman) with a large and trusting audience, about pesky flies and persistent termites and uninvited bedbugs and more. He will tell you how to get rid of them, but you still get the feeling he would never squash one with malice, or consider one less worthy than humankind. He opposes cruelty in any form, to animals of any size.
Thus, when the issue of honey bees (good) v electromagnetic radiation (potentially evil) was raised, it was no surprise that The Bugman would come down firmly on the side of the bees. Turns out, this might be an issue with broad implications for us all. A reader asked The Bugman, several days ago, about a report that cell phones are a cause of colony collapse disorder in honeybees. (Honeybees do more than make honey. Think oranges, lemons and blackberries for starters.)
It is my contention that the main cause of colony collapse disorder in honeybees is from pesticides. Another reason for the population decline in honeybees is believed to be electromagnetic radiation that is emitted from cell phones and wireless towers. According to an article published in the Times of India, a study in Kerala found that cell phone towers caused a rapid decline in their honeybee population and that they could cause a complete collapse of the bee population in 10 years. Dr. Sainuddin Pattazhy, who conducted the study, concluded that the electromagnetic waves from the towers shorted out the navigational abilities of the worker bees so they couldn’t find their way back to their hive after collecting pollen.
A study conducted at Landau University in Germany showed that when cell phones were placed near hives, the bees wouldn’t return to them. Scientists believe the radiation generated by the cell phones was enough to interfere with the bees’ communication system, which are movement patterns, with their hives.
I doubted the contention that cell phones were detrimental to bees when I first heard it. But studies have shown that the electromagnetic fields have an impact on other species as well, including migratory birds that lose their orientation in the radiation.
If the electromagnetic radiation can affect birds, then there is no doubt in my mind it can affect insects as well, including honeybees. We also need to be concerned about our own species. At one time we were convinced that cigarette smoking was harmless. We were wrong with cigarettes, and we need to look carefully at electromagnetic radiation.
The writer of this space, a chain smoker for 20+ years (thankfully long past) and currently a city walker regularly threatened with sudden death by cell phone wielding drivers, comes down firmly on the side of The Bugman and the bees.