Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?
April 15, 2007 9:08 AM   Subscribe

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees? Electromagnetic waves from cell phones and other sources may be the cause behind the mysterious bee colony collapses in the US and Europe, a serious problem for food crops.
posted by stbalbach (87 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Firstenberg, A. 1997: Microwaving Our Planet: The Environmental Impact of the Wireless Revolution.
Individuals living with 100 metres of a wireless facility of any kind tend to report symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, memory loss, inability to concentrate, irritability, rise in blood pressure, peculiar pressure behind the eyeballs, joint pains moving around the body, hurt of feet sole, high-pitched noises in their ears, itchy systemic rash and even internal bleeding -- all symptoms of radiowave sickness.
posted by stbalbach at 9:12 AM on April 15, 2007

If this is true - if - what could be done about it? The implications are mind-boggling. We do sort of need the bees ...
posted by WPW at 9:12 AM on April 15, 2007

My money's on a natural cause, like the weather changes (bees are very sensitive to all that) or something.

We're in so much trouble unless we fix this. Are there enough foods that don't rely on bees? (rice? potatoes?)
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on April 15, 2007

And is it happening everywhere or just industrialized countries?
posted by amberglow at 9:16 AM on April 15, 2007

no. that article is ridiculous
posted by bhnyc at 9:20 AM on April 15, 2007

The Slashdot thread contains lots of good counterarguments.
posted by martinrebas at 9:25 AM on April 15, 2007

If it's true, it could really be a huge deal, with mind-boggling implications indeed.

I just think I need more and better information before giving this theory real credibility in my mind. I stopped reading the second linked article when it stated

Disoriented bees? Ah, well this is a possibility. But what would make them disoriented? Perhaps it is the 250 HZ signals being pumped out of GWEN stations all over America. This signal makes people angry, so that they support the administrations idea of going after Iran and violence in general. It works great for mass manipulation of opinion.

This is crackpot territory, IMHO, and immediately discredits anything of value the author has to offer on the bee issue.

Thanks for the post, though, certainly an interesting theory.
posted by gemmy at 9:26 AM on April 15, 2007

"I am convinced the possibility is real."

Wow, yup, that's the kind of hard hitting conclusion that nobody can ignore. Frankly, the world needs to...

...oh, sorry, hang on a minute, my mobile phone's ringing.
posted by Muddler at 9:30 AM on April 15, 2007

Gawd, what a bunch of garbage. The whole chemical/EM sensitivity stuff is truly nuts. It's just a phobia, like being afraid of germs or whatever else. The symptoms are simply the result of the placebo effect.
posted by delmoi at 9:33 AM on April 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

That article is wildly slanted. The phrasing is trying to indicate that the only reason we haven't proven that cell phones are bad is because we haven't waited long enough yet.

The author has already made up his mind, and is trying to invent evidence to support his view.

Faith-based science.
posted by Malor at 9:33 AM on April 15, 2007

If this were indeed the cause, it wouldn't be appearing to "spread" to well-covered-in-mobile-service areas like Britain and Continental Europe only now.

I'd look at other environmental stressors first, from pesticides to GM crops, or perhaps a newly prevalent pollutant. How do these hive deaths correlate with special gasoline blends, or ethanol usage?
posted by dhartung at 9:38 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

from that Slashdot thread: Buzz on bees: not so bad--Beekeepers' profits stand out among a swarm of dire reports-- ... In a normal year, Oregon beekeepers say, they expect to lose 25 percent to 30 percent of their bees - and they don't know how the so-called collapse is related to these usual trials and tribulations. ...

I had no idea that that many die each year always.
posted by amberglow at 9:39 AM on April 15, 2007

Thing is, the grasping at straws over colony collapse disorder has been going on for months now. In some ways it'd almost be better if we knew definitively it was cell phones, because then we'd at least definitively know something.

Scroll to the bottom of this blog post for a handy bar chart showing just how fucked we'd be if the bees disappeared. Not all our foodstuffs are pollinated by bees by any means, but various niches would take tremendous hits and that all adds up to $14.6 billion. I don't remember what percentage of the agricultural industry that represents, but it's significant.
posted by chrominance at 9:39 AM on April 15, 2007

maybe it is the GM crops thing? But we need data on the whole world's agriculture, esp developing nations that have GM crops forced on them.
posted by amberglow at 9:40 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

EMF nutters are the fucking best, there's a guy who papers over the 30th Street subway station in Philly with EMF treatises about once a week. I need to snatch one for quoting purposes; it's pure, undiluted, highly concentrated awesome.
posted by The Straightener at 9:43 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'd happily support any effort to rid the planet of cell phones, but this likely isn't that opportunity.
posted by psmealey at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Previously on MetaFilter: scientists were concerned about declining wild bee populations five years ago. (EM fields were not implicated.)
posted by mcwetboy at 9:48 AM on April 15, 2007

Headlining an article with a question like this is suitable for, maybe, the Weekly World News. So tacky. "Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?" "Are death towers scanning our brains?" "Are grizzly bears infiltrating the KGB?" The article always boils down to "...blah, blah, unclear, blah; at least we heard some guy thinks maybe."
posted by Wolfdog at 9:52 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

While I don't give this theory a lot of credit without seeing some real research (the chief suspect in my mind would be some new or expanded practice in chemically-intensive or GM agriculture -- there's some really fucking irresponsible shit going on there), I can't resist delmoi's comment:

It's just a phobia, like being afraid of germs or whatever else.

Yeah, because that whole germ theory of disease is just tinfoil-hatted nonsense from the lunatic fringe.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:53 AM on April 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

Actually, honey bees are lousy pollinators, and in a lot of areas the majority of pollination is done by other types of bee. Many of those, especially carpenter bees, could be used much more extensively than they are now. This article has an interesting list of major alternatives, along with some interesting factoids:

Bumblebees pollinate tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, melons, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and cranberries, just to name a few. Bumblebees are the only pollinators of potato flowers worldwide.

One only needs 250-750 orchard mason bees to pollinate an acre of apples. It would take 60,000-120,000 honeybees to cover the same area.

Osmia cornifrons (the horned-faced or hornfaced bee) is a commercial pollinator of apples in Japan and is a pollinator of orchard crops grown in areas of higher humidities in the U.S.. The hornfaced bee is 80 times more effective than honeybees for pollinating apples. A single hornfaced bee can visit 15 flowers a minute, setting 2,450 apples in a day, compared to the 50 flowers set in a honeybee's day. In Japan, where hornfaced bees pollinate up to 30 percent of the country's apple crop, apple growers need only about 500 to 600 hornfaced bees per hectare (2.47 acres).
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:53 AM on April 15, 2007 [7 favorites]

Well, having read more, I'm reassured that it's not radiowaves from mobile phones killing the bees, we don't know what's killing the bees.

Wait, that's not at all reassuring.

But at least I get to keep my phone.
posted by WPW at 9:56 AM on April 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

scientists were concerned about declining wild bee populations five years ago.

And eleven years ago ("U.S. honeybee population devastated; more than 90 percent of wild colonies have been wiped out"). And 20 years ago ("a parasitic mite invaded hives in the mid-1980s and also wiped out a large percentage of wild honeybee nests").
posted by martinrebas at 10:02 AM on April 15, 2007 [3 favorites]

I just don't see manufacturing tin-foil hats that small as a viable solution.

While we're on the topic, though, you should make one for yourself.

*rolls eyes*
posted by chrisamiller at 10:13 AM on April 15, 2007

"symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, memory loss, inability to concentrate, irritability, rise in blood pressure, peculiar pressure behind the eyeballs, joint pains moving around the body, hurt of feet sole, high-pitched noises in their ears, itchy systemic rash and even internal bleeding -- all symptoms of radiowave sickness."


I get many of those symptoms off and on all the time, and I don't even own a cellphone. I attribute it to treating my body like crap all my life and suffering for it in my old age.

Honeys are leaving cuz they're tired of us taking all their honey. Try not to take it personally, but we humans make for terrible neighbors.

PSMeasley: "I'd happily support any effort to rid the planet of cell phones, but this likely isn't that opportunity."

I would too, but then I would also support any effort to rid the planet of insects, even though I know they do more harm than good. They creep me out.

I'd also support any effort to rid the world of pretty boy bands, other people's car alarms, squash, brussel sprouts, telemarketers, that duet between Lionel Richie and Diana Ross that they did many years ago, and that weird smell that some grocery stores get.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:15 AM on April 15, 2007

maybe it is the GM crops thing?

posted by homunculus at 10:17 AM on April 15, 2007

Plant more ligustrum privets! Save the bees!
posted by WolfDaddy at 10:21 AM on April 15, 2007

We grew squash in our backyard last year, and it was mostly pollinated by bumblebees and yellowjackets, which turn out to be responsible for a lot of the pollination going around in the southeastern US. Not that it makes the loss of honeybees good, but maybe not such a catastrophe as predicted. The advantages with honeybees show up with large scale farming, maybe, and in the ability to ensure the pollination by taking the hives to the fields (plus there's the honey).

Now, if honeybees are just a bellwether for the rest of the pollinators, we could have trouble. We probably do see changes to the honeybee hives well before we notice problems in bumblebee or yellowjacket populations. And knowing whether or not it is also affecting those groups might also help get an idea what's happening to the honeybees.

So now who's up for going out to count yellowjackets this summer (and for the next few years)?
posted by dilettante at 10:22 AM on April 15, 2007

"Honeys are leaving..."

See? Right there. I forgot to type in 'honeyBEES' which indicates memory loss, and now I'm irritable. That's two symptoms right there. It's not radiation sickness. It's called senility. At forty.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:26 AM on April 15, 2007

What I wonder is if the problem for honeybees is genetic collapse. If you think about it, genetic diversity is a real problem. There aren't all that many players in the genetic game, and they tend to breed close anyway. The bees being kept by the beekeepers are all inbreeding, and you could end up with genetic monocultures among the hives belonging to a particular beekeeper, or something close to it.

That kind of thing happened before. There was a period where the lumber companies got involved in cloning of "supertrees" for reforestation, and eventually there were huge stands of trees nearly all of which were genetically identical. Eventually something came along (it was a kind of moth) that those trees were particularly vulnerable to, and since all of them were the same genetically, entire stands of timber were devastated. If the trees had been genetically more diverse the damage wouldn't have been as great.

Could it be that the reason so many of the honeybee hives (which are really only a single breeding individual) are being devastated by mites is the same? If so, it strongly suggests that other breeds of pollinating bees are not equally vulnerable.

All carpenter bee females are fertile; there are no "workers". All the males are fertile, too. Every carpenter bee is involved in the genetic game, and that implies that there's a lot more genetic variability, and the species is likely to be more hardy when facing significant challenges than a heavily inbred species would be.

Bumblebees kind of split the difference; there are queens and workers, but nests are smaller and there are more of them, with a few dozen workers per queen instead of thousands. Again, the expectation is that since there are more genetic players in the game, they're going to be better able to respond to major challenges.

So I'm not massively concerned about this report. First, it's happened before. It isn't anything new. Second, the majority of our crops don't rely on honey bees for pollination. Third, even those that do could switch to other pollinators if necessary and there's no reason to believe that those other pollinators are vulnerable to the mites which seem to be nailing the honey bees.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:36 AM on April 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

posted by found missing at 10:36 AM on April 15, 2007 [11 favorites]

It's more than plausible, but probable. Bees have been shown to be sensitive to electromagnetic radiation fields and if they don't return to the hive as individuals, that would conform to the hypothesis better than pesticides.
posted by Brian B. at 10:42 AM on April 15, 2007

Steven, if carpenter bees are so much better, why don't we use them more here? It doesn't make sense not to.

(and what about honey? we get more than just pollinating from honeybees)
posted by amberglow at 10:49 AM on April 15, 2007

Oh, let's just get rid of all the cell phones anyway. If they aren't harming the bees, they're still harming my commute when wielded by inattentive motorists.

Steven C. Den Beste - Wow! You deal with insects for a living?
posted by EatTheWeek at 10:51 AM on April 15, 2007

If this is true - if - what could be done about it? The implications are mind-boggling.
If it's true -- and I'm not saying it is -- we're all dead. Republicans will be caustically deriding all scientific evidence even as the last bee dies.
posted by Flunkie at 11:02 AM on April 15, 2007

Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?

If only it were the other way around.
posted by pracowity at 11:02 AM on April 15, 2007

Sunspots mess up the bee's six dimension navigation dance.
posted by hortense at 11:11 AM on April 15, 2007

I don't know if anyone else read that as "Are mobile phones wiping out our beers?"

I started to panic, for a moment.
posted by ORthey at 11:21 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

EM radiation? Meh.

It's probably the increasing use of pesticides.
posted by porpoise at 11:22 AM on April 15, 2007

The reason honeybees do not effectively pollinate apples, SCDB, is that apple blossoms cock themselves and snap their pollinators in the face with sticky packets of pollen. Honey bees apparently do not like that, and rapidly learn to avoid them. It is no accident that one of the better pollinators of apples is named 'horn-faced.'

With less obstreperous plants, bees are far more effective pollinators than their rivals for the affection of farmers.
posted by jamjam at 11:25 AM on April 15, 2007

Steven, if carpenter bees are so much better, why don't we use them more here? It doesn't make sense not to.

We actually use them a lot more than most people realize. That's part of why this hysterical article is phony: honeybees are not actually as important of pollinators as the article would have you believe.

It's true that these other pollinators don't produce honey, but a drastic decrease in the supply of honey is not exactly an earth-shattering catastrophe that will lead to the extinction of the human race by starvation.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:28 AM on April 15, 2007

I thought The Independant was a respectable enough paper that they might shy away from printing unsubstantiated techno-paranoic rantings.

The really great journalism comes in when Lean & Shawcross run out of material about EMFs interfering with bees and start on a litany of garden variety suspicions about cellphones. (If I have "text thumb" how can I ever hope to help the bees?!)

Whatever the problem is with mobile phones, the solution is clear.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 11:30 AM on April 15, 2007

Its amazing all the things cell phones have been accused of. Its like we're cavemen unable to think logically and when something bad happens it must be the pagans, jews, cell phones. Its tedious and tiresome. Anyone with a basic understanding of what a cell phone is would know that European cell phone coverage is denser than anywere in the US. If bees (or tumors or whatever) are caused by this radiation we'd see it in Europe first. Hell, half the beekeepers in these "articles" don't even see a problem.

I really wish people would just get off the whole self-important conspiracy thinking. Its like an american national sport. At least the cell phone people arent as insufferable as the "9/11 truth" people. Or the fluroide people. Or the contrails people. Or the jesus freaks. Or the food preservative people. Or UFO crowd. Or the moon landing people. Hysteria isn't just for the 19th century. We're soaking in it.

These "journalists" really need to learn some basic skepticism.
posted by damn dirty ape at 11:36 AM on April 15, 2007 [2 favorites]

I like that they use an Albert Einstein quote to support an agriculture theory.

All of this talk about cell phones is silly, tinfoil hat nonsense. Clearly, the aliens are getting nearer and their black hole drives will make us all a little crazy while we adjust. There have been more and more Bigfoot sightings every day since the bee thing began. By the time the aliens get here, the Bigfeet will be out of the woods, becoming captains of industry and voting Objectivist.
posted by stavrogin at 11:45 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

The host of Coast to Coast says that, if the honeybees vanish, humanity will die off three or four years later.

*terrified shiver*
posted by jayder at 11:48 AM on April 15, 2007

actually, the Coast to Coast dude was quoting Einstein.
posted by jayder at 11:50 AM on April 15, 2007

I got stung by a bee once when I was a kid and still hold a grudge against them. I say we get rid of both bees AND cellphones, AND anything else that bugs us. ...except for memes. I like those. Laurie Anderson would be so proud.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:51 AM on April 15, 2007

I think people are looking past the real culprit.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:55 AM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Anyone with a basic understanding of what a cell phone is would know that European cell phone coverage is denser than anywere in the US.

Yes, but Europe is GSM and the U.S. is mostly CDMA. Bees know the difference. (Qualcomm stock soars on the news.)
posted by JackFlash at 12:03 PM on April 15, 2007

Maybe God is trying to get our attention?

Bees, freezes in different areas of the country affecting crops (don't expect a lot of peaches this year, people), etc.

If anyone sees locusts, I'll be in my bunker.
posted by konolia at 12:31 PM on April 15, 2007

Hmm.... I can;t help feeling this is being pushed in a similar way to the cancer/mobile phones link, and will turn out to have exactly the same level of factual basis.
posted by Artw at 12:32 PM on April 15, 2007

Artw: Was there a conclusive study on the cell phone leads to cancer thing?

I remember it being all over the news, but I don't recall the final conclusion.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 12:43 PM on April 15, 2007

Thanks for that article on alternative pollinators, Steven; it's really interesting.
posted by mediareport at 1:35 PM on April 15, 2007

I'm also skeptical. Putting cell phones "near" a hive smacks of bad science to me -- cell phones do all sorts of things like hum and vibrate.

I'd at least need to see some sort of large-scale correlation: "these areas have lots of colony desertions and lots of cell towers; the other areas have less of both."

Not that I don't think

1. bees might be in danger from some undetermined source

2. this would be a Big Deal, not just losing pollination but because it would be the first time we'd actually destroyed a significant chain in our food supply ourselves.

and even

3. there might well be negative health impacts of proximity to cell towers or even perhaps to individual phones.

and even more generally

4. sometime soon, we're going to seriously break something in our environment, it will be very bad, but hopefully the people remaining alive (and let's hope that this is nearly all of us) will all be a lot more careful about the unintended consequences of our actions in future.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:45 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

One more thing, SCDB, does this screed against the humble honeybee mean the hysterical fear on the right that industry of any kind might be found responsible for the slightest environmental consequence of their actions has reached such a pitch of absurdity they feel they must stoop even to attacking honeybees???

Thank you for the laugh (and the early warning); thank God the Cons are so prone to smearing themselves with their own excrement at the slightest provocation. With a bare scintilla more regard for the truth, or better judgement, they would be so much more dangerous.
posted by jamjam at 2:26 PM on April 15, 2007

"Gob's not on board."
posted by disillusioned at 2:35 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

An excellent review concerning RF exposure and its biological effects (or lack thereof)

Meltz, M. L.," Radiofrequency Exposure and Mammalian Cell Toxicity, Genotoxicity, and Transformation," Bioelectromagnetics
6: S196{S213]

posted by FuturisticDragon at 2:59 PM on April 15, 2007

If anyone sees locusts, I'll be in my bunker.

What, you don't want to meet your Lord Saviour anymore?

You know, what happened to him, anyway? He used to fly off the handle at every little thing, flood there, fire and brimstone here. How come he turned into such a fucking fruitcake?
Gee, those humans are such assholes, I just can't get through to them. Hey! How about killing some bees? Surely they will get the message..
posted by c13 at 3:05 PM on April 15, 2007

"If anyone sees locusts, I'll be in my bunker."

...aaand if anyone sees Inara Sera, I'll be in my bunk.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:24 PM on April 15, 2007

One thought about EMF that's interesting is that it's been gradually increasing in various forms since the late 1800s. Imagine the spike in artificial EMF from the 1950s to the present... it'd be a heck of an increase, I'd guess. I've always wondered what effect this may have our relatively delicate neuro-chemical system. There are so many other factors though, like GMOs, crazy chemicals in food, air pollution, &c., that it'd be a huge and frightening task to see how this invisible industrial soup plays on humans/other-life-forms in the more subtle ways.
posted by moonbird at 3:26 PM on April 15, 2007

spring blossoms buzzing
cell phone rings, all goes quiet
oops, I killed the bees.
posted by po at 3:33 PM on April 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


The world's population has been reduced to just over 2 billion people in the last 20 years. The leading cause of death in that period swung quickly from heart disease to starvation-related causes, however the Avian Flu Pandemic of 2011-13 wiped out an estimated 300 million. The average life expectancy has been reduced to 44 years, and current projections show a continued population decline, with some estimates cutting the population in half again before 2040.

There was a time when the developed world speculated that global warming would be the end of man. The warming has continued, but there is now significant doubt that our race will die of an over-heated planet. The last humans will most likely die of diseases related to extreme forms of

It started with the disappearance of the bees. With little explanation, and nearly overnight, the bee populations in most of the developed world literally vanished. It started with bumblebee populations primarily, but the related bee families followed in short order. There were many speculations as to the cause, but by the time we would determine what it was, we already knew that it was too late to do anything about it.

There were signs as early as the 1990's, but it did not become a matter of international importance until the late 2000's, when the US demand for imports of key grains, fruits, and vegetables skyrocketed over 600% in just 3 years. It became evident very quickly that the world would not be able to keep up. Embroiled in political scandal and continued war in the Middle East, the US quickly began to lose its attractiveness as a place to live given its massive population and burgeoning food crisis. On March 26th, 2018, for the first time in its history, immigration to the United States ceased to outweigh egression.

Europe was little different - unable to produce nearly the levels of food it had for so many hundreds of years, it too began to place massive demand upon the world's food storehouses. In January of 2020, China made its final export shipment of rice, likely forever.

With so much of the world's plant life being decimated by the lack of naturally-occurring pollination that the bees had provided throughout history, and humans placing inordinate demand on the world's resources, animal life was the first to go. Cattle herds by the millions were left to starve in grazed-out pastures, and the resulting diseases that grew out of the endless fields of carcasses quickly spread even to the living herds where little food may have been left. The dairy industry collapsed in turn. And the same was true for pigs, chickens, and sheep - very quickly the problem of plant life disappearing became a problem of all life disappearing.

Humanity turned to the sea for hope of a solution, and the sea-weed farming market exploded. Not long after it was first identified as a potential solution for the world's nutritional crises, the price of seaweed eclipsed the price of oil, and suddenly precious metals were no longer so precious. With little or no regulation on the industry, most of the seaweed stock within 500 miles of any coast was harvested in the first 2 years. It was only then that we began to realize we had never even stopped to evaluate the resulting impact on the world's oceanic ecosystems.

Countries around the world began enforcing strict population controls in vain attempts to allay the growing world hunger pains. Black markets began to develop across the planet for certain fruits and vegetables that were virtually non-existent in most parts of the world. The normal world trade markets bent and then broke.

And then the wars began.

It started with a nuclear strike on San Francisco in 2019, Tehran and Beruit soon thereafter, and by 2025 no fewer than 32 major world city centers had fallen to nuclear attacks - including New York, Washington DC, Chicago, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Athens, Jerusalem, Damascus, Cairo, New Dehli, Beijing, Hong Kong, Seoul, and Tokyo. Smallpox was released in cities across the US and Europe in 2023 and the almost non-existent reserves of vaccination were depleted instantly. Another estimated 500 million would die in the fall-out. Cities were no longer safe places to live, and many began to see massive population out-fluxes.

But for all the death brought on by the fire of war and spread of disease, it still paled in comparison to the growing death toll from malnutrition. Africa became a desolate wasteland as hunger exploded across the continent and the world was unable to respond. Lands in Eastern Europe, Canada, South America and Asia that were still producing limited amounts of edible plant life were so fought over that they were often themselves destroyed in the fighting. Billions starved, and having children soon became a luxury afforded only the most powerful elites left in the remnants of "society." Most of those who had fled the cities hoping to save their lives only died more slowly than they would have had they stayed, wandering forgotten lands where no nutrition was to be found.

There is little distinction now between what was once first and third world. Many borders have blurred, and more than 2/3rds of the population now live in in the militarized mega-cities in Asia and South America. Systems and rules have been developed to control our ways of life as we now know it.

Entrance into the cities is nearly impossible. Exit is simple - you need only fall ill. With no major health care system - the governing police states exist to remove the ill immediately, and the population continues to dwindle. We try to put it out of our minds - but these days death has become, in some senses, a way of life.

Closed off from what is left of the outside world, we perform our prescribed functions, and sooner or later we fall ill and die. Immune systems burdened with extremely limited diets continue to fall apart, and the cities grow emptier by the day. There are no more children, and pro-creation is strictly forbidden.

The purpose of the cities is simple - every person exists to perform a function that serves to support the genetic development efforts. Gigantic eco-spheres dot the city-scapes and inside scientists daily labor to re-create the bee, in hopes that it can be done before there is no one left to do the work. The research is closely guarded and even the best speculations are only that.

At the end of the day, our hope hangs on rebuilding the insects who's flight our very laws of physics could not explain.
posted by allkindsoftime at 3:38 PM on April 15, 2007 [10 favorites]

Yeah, but those iPhones sure are sweet...
posted by c13 at 4:02 PM on April 15, 2007

prostetnic vogon jeltz sez: "come on humanity, evolve won't you? you're in a bloody plural zone and if that weren't enough you had douglas noel adama (er, adams), and the quantum (eve)sdropper. i've got no sympathy at all. energize the demolition beams"
posted by oonh at 4:20 PM on April 15, 2007

i notice that there are far fewer quilting bees since cell phones came around as well....
posted by troybob at 6:59 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

The solution is simple. All cell phones should come permanently attached to a hive of bees. This will boost the bee population, reduce cell phone bills and virtually eliminate cell phone use while driving. Best of all free honey for everyone.

Those posters who seem to harbor some odd grudge against the honeybee need not worry. You could choose the “attached to 50 nests of yellow jackets” or “attached to a 55 gallon drum full of dirt and several thousand bumble bee holes” option.
posted by BostonJake at 7:37 PM on April 15, 2007

Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "man would have only four years of life left".

Let us not forget that Einstein also once said that The Independent sucks fat monkey cock. That's an exact quote.
posted by dgaicun at 8:51 PM on April 15, 2007

Einstein once said, "I got 99 problems, but a bee ain't one of them. Shit, motherfucker."
posted by stavrogin at 9:20 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by poweredbybeard at 9:44 PM on April 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

Mark Turner ain't sure either. Still. I think it's a good quote. We should go ahead and assume Einstein said it. What's he gonna do about it? He's dead.

"If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man."

Mark Turner argues that Einstein was a smart guy but wouldn't have known squat about bugs, so why would anyone presume he'd have made such an off-the-cuff remark about bees when he was a physicist. However, anyone mulling over a biscuit covered in honey one spring morning might have come to the same conclusion. Doesn't take an Einstein to think this through.

Humphrey Bogart never said "Play it again, Sam."

Cary Grant never said, "Judy, Judy, Judy."

However, Burt Reynolds once said, "Who gives a turkey?"
posted by ZachsMind at 9:57 PM on April 15, 2007

Yeah, whatcha gonna do about it, smart guy? You dead.

Einstein once said, "Godfather III is my favorite movie. See it once for the riveting plot, twice for Sofia Coppola! Four stars!"
posted by stavrogin at 10:12 PM on April 15, 2007

2012, specifically 12/21.

prepare thyselves for swarms of Mayan prophecy movies.

i saw two bees today, sitting in the road and the sidewalk, twitching a little, going nowhere. true story.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:38 PM on April 15, 2007

Meh, cell phones dilute the usefulness of ham radio. Take mine first, please.

And being [heh] allergic to bees, the less of them the better. Can't we get migrant workers to pollinate our flowers?
posted by OneOliveShort at 12:02 AM on April 16, 2007

allkindsoftime wrote: 2032. The world's population has been reduced to just over 2 billion people in the last 20 years.

Cereals like corn, wheat, and rice, rely on wind pollination.

Orthey wrote: I don't know if anyone else read that as "Are mobile phones wiping out our beers?" I started to panic, for a moment.

Barley, too.
posted by ryanrs at 12:53 AM on April 16, 2007

Goddammit, you fucking yahoos, why do you believe anything that you read? This whole thread should be deleted just to protect you ignorant, dangerously unskeptical fuckups from yourselves. Christ almighty, do you all go read the TimeCube site for five minutes and come out a full-blown schizophrenic? No? Then why are you completely unable to apply any sort of rational judgment to bullshit "news" articles that only quote weirdo Unabomber luddites? Hey, before you go adding Bible verses and Photoshopped pictures of a crying Jesus to the article, then forwarding the whole goddamn mess to your entire extended family, maybe you could spend the five seconds you usually take slapping your limp hand against your chest and check out the fucking sources before you turn all Erin fucking Brockovich on us.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:07 AM on April 16, 2007

Goddammit, you fucking yahoos, why do you believe anything that you read?

That's kinda what I was trying to say (I just couldn't put it so succinctly).
posted by allkindsoftime at 6:47 AM on April 16, 2007

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a ringtone.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:33 AM on April 16, 2007

I wonder if the startling interest in beedogs is some subconscious attempt to compensate for the forthcoming extinction of the old standard issue insectile bees?

Imagine, if you will, hundreds of thousands of beedogs swarming out over the countryside into the rising sun.

Visualise them, intense concentration on their furry little faces, as they hold tiny pippettes in their slobbery mouths to delicately transfer pollen from one flower to another.

Think of the sight of them as, at sundown, they return to the vast, cascading, hive shaped kennels we constructed for them. Putting their heads down in the communal food troughs, their translucent plastic wings trembling gently as they feed, secure in the knowledge that they alone keep their masters fields healthy and productive.

Yes, we may lose the bees, and that would be sad. Think, however, of the wondrous sights we would gain!
posted by thatwhichfalls at 8:06 AM on April 16, 2007

What happened to those really bad tv movies about killer bees? Weren't we all supposed to be dead by now anyway? Killer bees from South America migrating north and taking out scores of hasbeen actors and pretty people who can't act.

I remember a scene where someone in a bee keeper's costume was freaking out and swinging a blade of some sort which cut the outfit of another beekeeper nearby allowing all the bees to fly into that guy and kill him. It was really pretty funny. Then there was another scene about a car going ten miles an hour and the bees were flying towards the car and it was running out of gas and the people inside it were freaking out. A lot of just general freaking out in killer bee movies. Good times.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:45 AM on April 16, 2007

The solution is obvious. Simply give the bees land lines.

*mutter* Stupid *mutter* crackpots.
posted by chairface at 10:48 AM on April 16, 2007

This theory would also fail to explain the large number of viruses and fungi found in the dead bees, which seems to indicate an immune system failure.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:42 AM on April 16, 2007

Einstein once said, "'Bees be all nasty.".
posted by stavrogin at 5:28 PM on April 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Albert Einstein once said that if the pigeons disappeared, "man would have cleaner statuary".
posted by dgaicun at 8:07 PM on April 16, 2007

Einstein once said, "I swear she said she was legal. Why ya gotta start using words like statuary?".
posted by stavrogin at 8:34 PM on April 16, 2007

I heard Eistein used a mad high tech formula and sent all bees into the future.
posted by BostonJake at 8:43 PM on April 16, 2007

"I speak for the treesbees!" : >
posted by amberglow at 3:56 PM on April 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

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