Honeybees are dying all over the country — and one Brooklyn beekeeper thinks that cellphones are the culprit!
Brooklyn bee-maven David Graves, who sells his high-end “Rooftop” brand honey at the Union Square Farmers Market, is sounding the alarm about the possible cause of the crisis that has claimed the lives of billions of bees in 24 states.
“Every year, more and more bees are just disappearing and I am real concerned that cellphones are messing with their ability to find their way,” said the beekeeper.
Graves said he has about a dozen rooftop hives throughout the boroughs, with one on Bergen Street in Brooklyn, and claims to have made much of his honey on the rooftops of Bay Ridge (though he likes to keep the exact locations secret).
Graves says the apiary “die-off” is playing havoc with the production of honey and other products from the hive.
“I have had to raise the price of my honey this year to $15 for a half-pound,” Graves said. “I am anticipating having a bad year and have already put the order in for 30 packages of honeybees from South Carolina.”
More than half-a-billion bee colonies have been affected by a mysterious bee die-off — and more and more, people think this “colony collapse disorder” is due to radiation from mobile phones and the antennae that help you reach out and touch someone.
How important is this bee-tastrophe? Well, as Einstein once said, “If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years.” So start spreading the news: The end is near! (Just don’t spread it with a cellphone.)
“Something is happening to the number of bee hives in New York — and studies have shown that bees get disoriented from cellphones,” said Timothy McCabe, the curator of Entomology at the New York State Museum.
A study found that bees refuse to return to their hives when mobile phones are placed nearby, though its unclear what happens when the phone or the tower is a bit further away, said McCabe.
“The study shows that if you put the phone very close to the hive it affects their ability to communicate,” McCabe said. “But the effect on the bees still needs further study in terms of greater distances from the cellphones.”
Graves, whose rooftop bees are especially vulnerable due to their high location and close proximity to cell phone towers, believes the theory may be more than just buzz
“Bees are very sensitive with their direction, if you move a hive just three feet away, the bees get confused and hover in the spot where the hive used to be for hours,” Graves said. “I believe that these towers are messing up my bees.”
Today, there are approximately 10.5 million wireless phone subscribers in New York City, and thousands of cellphone antennae throughout the boroughs, although there has been no way of accurately measuring the amount of radiation or the effect, if any, it is having on the bees ability to bumble.
In March, 2005, the City Council, citing health concerns, required the city to maintain a list of the locations of cellular phone antennae.
But it may not be so easy to save the bees. Even the beekeeper admitted that he’s part of the problem.
“I do have a cellphone,” Graves admitted. “But I feel so guilty every time I use it that I may just get rid of it.”