Wind Farms, Turbines and Bees
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  1. #1
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    Default Wind Farms, Turbines and Bees

    In the September 2007 issue of Bee Culture, there was a letter written to the editor by Douglas J. Schulz of Chilton, Wisconsin.

    In his letter, he expressed concerns about a potential wind farm moving into the area of his bees. His primary concern was the "shadowing, flashing, strobing effect from the blades," as he notes that the effect lasts "two to three hours a day for two to three weeks in spring and fall when the sun comes up." His fears are that the bees would either become disoriented or irritated by the effect. Other concerns of his are the "thumping noise" from the blades and the effect of "stray voltage" to the bees.

    While Mr. Schulz has suggested environmental impact studies be conducted in regards to insects and honey bees, I'm a little more interested in the practical aspects of these wind farms.

    In short, wind farms are coming to my neck of the woods. Does anyone have any experiences with these wind turbines in close proximity to their bee yards? And, better yet, have you noticed any difference between bees kept near wind farms versus bees without turbines nearby?

    Thanks in advance!
    DS

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  3. #2
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    I am a telecommunications engineer for a large utility (not electric) in Texas. My occupation takes me out to west Texas near Maryneal and Sweetwater which is the hot bed of wind energy in the world. They are putting up so many wind farms out there, there's a new one every time I go out that way.

    From what I can tell, these wind generators do not make any noise. They spin so slow that I wonder how they produce any electricity. Since they spin so slow I would discount the fanning effect on sunlight. They are about 300' tall and I don't see them having much effect other than being eyesores. You know some prominent Massachusetts politicians recently prevented a project near Martha's Vinyard because they didn't want the wind turbines spoiling their view. There's few registered voters in west Texas so I think it was safe putting them there. Might be true of Michigan as well.

    I have a private windmill that would be a nuisance to animal and insect. It is small and spins very fast. In a wind greater than 37 mph it is LOUD! I don't care because I don't have many neighbors nearby and it makes my power. I've not noticed a single negative effect on livestock at all. There is a documented danger to birds with these smaller, fast spinning wind turbines. In California they stopped a windfarm of fast spinning turbines because they found dead ratites underneath them. The blades spin so fast that birds or insects could not possibly fly through them. The big wind turbines that utilities are using today spin too slow to have this problem. I have bees in my backyard less than 100' from my wind turbine. I've not noticed a single problem with the bees or any of my other livestock for that matter.

  4. #3
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    "Ratites" are a group of flightless birds that lack keels. Ostriches, emus, kiwis, and rheas are examples of extant (not extinct) ratites. Do you really mean "ratites," beyondthesidewalks?

  5. #4
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    I understand ratities to be birds of prey like hawks and eagles. That is what has some folks upset about windmills since many birds of prey are protected. They call them ratites. That's where I got it.

    I guess I would have been better off calling them birds of prey. BTW, I have not seen one dead bird under my windmill. I've seen many more dead birds under plate glass windows. Also haven't noticed any dead bees under my windmill.

  6. #5
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    "Raptors" are birds of prey. "Ratites" are flightless.

  7. #6
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    I think beyondthesidewalks has pretty well covered most of the physical aspects of the turbines with exception to the "stray voltage". Which doesn't exist.

    They may be referencing "EMF" instead, "Electromagnetic Fields" which are present around any type of electrical transmission lines or devices. We are all exposed to far to much "EMF" including the monitor you are sitting in front of and especially high voltage transmission lines. There may or may not be significant levels of EMF associated with the turbines collectively as they are connected to the collection grid. Provided you or your bees are located in close proximity of those lines. But I doubt that a very large amount of it would be present or transmitted from each turbine individually. Or at least I should say that there wouldn't be any more of a significant amount transmitted from them in comparison to conventional power transmission lines.

    Does it effect the bees, sure it does as it does every living thing. How it effects them specifically I haven't a clue. But it's certainly not something new they are coming in contact with more or less depending one where you are located.

    Given their short life span I wouldn't expect the long term effects we ourselves experience "cancer". But it would be interesting to know what if any effect it may have on their abilities and physical well being? But that would require remote isolation from all power sources to make a comparison and measure the effects of EMF on them.
    "Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." Winston Churchill

  8. #7
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    Raptors vs. Ratites: I stand corrected. Sorry for the confusion. Thanks for the clarification. They say the eyes are first to go but I know different. Memory.

    On the transmission line question, you will see no difference between transmission lines that carry conventionally generated power and wind power. Most of the long haul transimission lines are 345 or 185 KVA lines and I think there are plenty of those around already. There's been much debate about the effects of transmission lines on animals and people. Activists probably overclaim the effects. The utilities probably cover up or obfuscate the effects. Somewhere in the middle is probably where reality lives. Suffice it to say that you probably shouldn't live under or house livestock under transmission lines.

    Also, I don't hear much about distribution lines. The lines that feed my place are a 7200 volt system and you can hear them buzzing all of the time. I just don't think that can be all good. EMF is everywhere and I don't think you can get away from it.

    Now that they have built all those wind farms in west Texas, it was on the news yesterday that they want to charge the all users of electricity in the state to build the transmission lines to haul that electricity to the population centers in east and central Texas. I wish I was still beyondthesidewalks and offthegrid.

  9. #8
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    Chilton, WI is a hot bed of wind farm debate right now. Recall election only a short time before the regular election, big eyesore signs complaining about "eyesore" wind turbines, full page ads posing as articles, that sort of thing. You can get an idea of the amount of hot air in the area here: http://www.phpbbserver.com/iwantthen...m=iwantthenews

    This is the reason they're all huffing and puffing: http://www.we-energies.com/environme...greenfield.htm

    That one's completed and the Chilton area is the next logical step, being part of the high ground near Lake Michigan.

    I used to keep some bees where the towers are up now(my families farm) but I stopped due to access and distance problems.

    They are monitoring bat and bird populations, I can't see how they would be any worse than the other human activities in the area.

    But some people tell me my brains will turn to jelly and run right out my ears if I go near them Be nice to know I had some in there to begin with

    "Do the wind turbines make much sound, video?"

    http://www.fdlreporter.com/apps/pbcs...Jd+uzl/A2gI%3D

    That link was supposed to be to the wind turbine video, but you get the Miss Fond du Lac one instead! There's a link to the wind turbine one on the right

  10. #9
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    > Suffice it to say that you probably shouldn't live under or house livestock under transmission lines.

    I helped some friends string some electric fence wire in the right of way under some power transmission lines one time
    that thing was hot as a firecracker before we ever hooked up the charger
    loop of wire in an alternating magnetic field?
    I wouldn't live under one

    Dave

  11. #10
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    >>Does anyone have any experiences with these wind turbines in close proximity to their bee yards? And, better yet, have you noticed any difference between bees kept near wind farms versus bees without turbines nearby?


    In short, yup, and nope.

    Its all a buch of hype! Other than it makes the land owner and municipality a bunch of cash. This project has been a win win situation in our area. They have set up a wind farm of 65 or so large turbines,
    Last edited by Ian; 04-06-2008 at 02:00 PM.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  12. #11
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    Default Most bees do not fly at the hight of the turbin

    Quote Originally Posted by Bizzybee View Post
    I think beyondthesidewalks has pretty well covered most of the physical aspects of the turbines with exception to the "stray voltage". Which doesn't exist.

    They may be referencing "EMF" instead, "Electromagnetic Fields" which are present around any type of electrical transmission lines or devices. We are all exposed to far to much "EMF" including the monitor you are sitting in front of and especially high voltage transmission lines. There may or may not be significant levels of EMF associated with the turbines collectively as they are connected to the collection grid. Provided you or your bees are located in close proximity of those lines. But I doubt that a very large amount of it would be present or transmitted from each turbine individually. Or at least I should say that there wouldn't be any more of a significant amount transmitted from them in comparison to conventional power transmission lines.

    Does it effect the bees, sure it does as it does every living thing. How it effects them specifically I haven't a clue. But it's certainly not something new they are coming in contact with more or less depending one where you are located.

    Given their short life span I wouldn't expect the long term effects we ourselves experience "cancer". But it would be interesting to know what if any effect it may have on their abilities and physical well being? But that would require remote isolation from all power sources to make a comparison and measure the effects of EMF on them.

    The bees are not a high flier like the raptors, During strong winds the bee takes cover or is flying close to the ground. In most cases there is no pollen, nectar or UV reflective flowers to cause the bee to fly to that hight.

  13. #12
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    Now, everybody has the right to believe in those things - any way he/she wishes. I will not try to sway nobody, one way, nor the other.

    I will say this though, if you live under, or very close to high voltage transmission lines?
    Move!
    For your children's sake. . . . If your own good is not on the list of your concerns?

    Years ago, it started with one dairy farmer, who noticed that his milk production suddenly started dropping. He searched and dug around, but the cause for this sudden phenomenon was elusive, as a black cat in the night.
    The only thing that was diferent now, from before the sudden drop, was the new HV transmission line that was strung over his land.
    Much angry finger pointing and bickering ac-cured and finally some chap shoved up with some kind of camera and we all saw on the late TV news, how the EMF danced, as a weird, quivering, bluish light, on bushes and fance. When cows were grazing under the lines, we simply witnessed a simple and unbelievable magical-light-show. It looked as if Saint Elmo's fire was everywhere?

    The farmer went to court and after a while - promptly won!
    They paid him and erected another fence under the lines, to keep out his cows.

    Since:
    All over the world people battle the HT lines and those who own them. Schools and whole neighbourhoods are being shot down and people compensated, (some not and still waiting) and moved out.
    (As they say: The squeaky wheel gets the grease?")

    In this day and age, questions about: "Does it or doesn't?" Don't get asked anymore. It is sort of - excepted that "it does!"
    People living under the lines are showing very high occurrence of cancers, mainly leukemia, etc. . . .
    (Turbines too - will most likely show their own ugly face - soon enough?)
    Yet, lines/towers are being erected as we speak. We are in the same place now - in which we forced the wildlife? Life forms simply falling under-foot of progress. . .?!


    I once set up a bee yard under the clearing, where fire-weed was abundant. It was a bad decision.
    The bees turned out to be little devils with wings!
    Next year, I set them up in a vicinity, but the fire-weed went on unused?!

    I even noticed that during the deer season, hunters used to move under the lines in droves.
    The reasoning was right?! But, they too, soon learned.
    They were all expecting deer to come out of the bush by the hundreds, to feed on a lush greenery under those lines.
    But not so. . . .
    Oh yeah. Don't get me wrong? Some did bag a deer or two. But only those with a quick eye and a quicker finger.
    Those who got lucky? They bagged the driven deer, which were forced to move across the clearing. . . .
    Yes, animals do seem to know better than people?


    Regards,
    France

  14. #13
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    I live right next to the train tracks. Sometimes it takes the train 10-20 minutes to pass. The bees don't seem to mind. Also, when we mow near the hive, they don't mind either. I know it's not the same as a windmill, but just thought I'd add that info...

    Let's BEE friends

  15. #14
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    Default EMF and bees

    Quote Originally Posted by France View Post
    Now, everybody has the right to believe in those things - any way he/she wishes. I will not try to sway nobody, one way, nor the other.

    I will say this though, if you live under, or very close to high voltage transmission lines?
    Move!
    For your children's sake. . . . If your own good is not on the list of your concerns?

    Years ago, it started with one dairy farmer, who noticed that his milk production suddenly started dropping. He searched and dug around, but the cause for this sudden phenomenon was elusive, as a black cat in the night.
    The only thing that was diferent now, from before the sudden drop, was the new HV transmission line that was strung over his land.
    Much angry finger pointing and bickering ac-cured and finally some chap shoved up with some kind of camera and we all saw on the late TV news, how the EMF danced, as a weird, quivering, bluish light, on bushes and fance. When cows were grazing under the lines, we simply witnessed a simple and unbelievable magical-light-show. It looked as if Saint Elmo's fire was everywhere?

    The farmer went to court and after a while - promptly won!
    They paid him and erected another fence under the lines, to keep out his cows.

    Since:
    All over the world people battle the HT lines and those who own them. Schools and whole neighbourhoods are being shot down and people compensated, (some not and still waiting) and moved out.
    (As they say: The squeaky wheel gets the grease?")

    In this day and age, questions about: "Does it or doesn't?" Don't get asked anymore. It is sort of - excepted that "it does!"
    People living under the lines are showing very high occurrence of cancers, mainly leukemia, etc. . . .
    (Turbines too - will most likely show their own ugly face - soon enough?)
    Yet, lines/towers are being erected as we speak. We are in the same place now - in which we forced the wildlife? Life forms simply falling under-foot of progress. . .?!


    I once set up a bee yard under the clearing, where fire-weed was abundant. It was a bad decision.
    The bees turned out to be little devils with wings!
    Next year, I set them up in a vicinity, but the fire-weed went on unused?!

    I even noticed that during the deer season, hunters used to move under the lines in droves.
    The reasoning was right?! But, they too, soon learned.
    They were all expecting deer to come out of the bush by the hundreds, to feed on a lush greenery under those lines.
    But not so. . . .
    Oh yeah. Don't get me wrong? Some did bag a deer or two. But only those with a quick eye and a quicker finger.
    Those who got lucky? They bagged the driven deer, which were forced to move across the clearing. . . .
    Yes, animals do seem to know better than people?


    Regards,
    France
    France,
    I've had no bad things happen to my bees in yards that were set up under and around high voltage transmission lines here in northern coastal area of California. Most make honey and some I have used for matting Queens. I like the locations because the utility company puts in all weather roads and the access is locked from those that don't belong there. All have the same related problems and blessings. Work out your own fee with the land owner, honey is always part of the agreement.
    The yards have the same differences that the local weather brings to all my locations.The weather is always the factor that changs every yard in every micro climate. finding out where and when takes time. Usually after a season or two you can make honey in all of them.
    The bees set the seeds and after that it just keeps getting better. If you keep looking for sheltered locations in full sun that are near or close to the top south side of hills works best for me. I use a boom truck that needs a location that is not on a steep slant.
    Lee.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyDS View Post
    In the September 2007 issue of Bee Culture, there was a letter written to the editor by Douglas J. Schulz of Chilton, Wisconsin.

    In his letter, he expressed concerns about a potential wind farm moving into the area of his bees. His primary concern was the "shadowing, flashing, strobing effect from the blades," as he notes that the effect lasts "two to three hours a day for two to three weeks in spring and fall when the sun comes up." His fears are that the bees would either become disoriented or irritated by the effect. Other concerns of his are the "thumping noise" from the blades and the effect of "stray voltage" to the bees.
    The thumping/noise issue was discussed earlier. Basically the large turbines don't make much if any noise. The rotate too slowly.

    The strobing is pretty much a non-issue as well. For one, only the smaller residential scale turbines are fast enough to cause strobing. Also, your point of view has to be immediately behind the turbine. Which is a unlikely place for a bee or anyone else to be. I think he is transferring the effect of being in a single engine airplane taxing into the rising/setting sun to an different situation. Taxing a plane into the sun with a propeller in front of you (running at certain RPMs) can be disorienting. It would be very difficult to reproduce the effect with a wind turbine. I think the guy who wrote the letter is a NIMBY (not in my back yard) and is fishing for reasons to protest wind turbines.

  17. #16
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    I'm not sure what his intentions were for writing the letter and for being upset. But it seems pretty clear to me, through the experience of others who know first hand, that there is no apparent danger to my bees or their production. The transmission lines will be run underground, and no high-tension wires should be on the same property as the turbine. (Unfortunately, someone will have to wind up with a transformer station, afterwhich there WILL be high-tension lines. But, as they say, "You pays your money, you takes your chances!")

    DS

  18. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by France View Post
    I will say this though, if you live under, or very close to high voltage transmission lines?
    Move!
    For your children's sake. . . . If your own good is not on the list of your concerns?

    Years ago, it started with one dairy farmer, who noticed that his milk production suddenly started dropping.
    You described my childhood, dairy farm with high voltage lines running across it. No problems whatsoever. I kept my bees directly under them with no problems either, except getting through the creek to them.

  19. #18
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    Ardilla- the whole Chilton mess is driven by NIMBY, it's pitted neighbor against neighbor and keeps getting uglier. Basically, if you own enough land to "host" a turbine, you're in favor of them, if you own an acre surounded by farms you want to tell the farmers what they can have on their property. Last I heard the state might be intervening.

    BigDaddyDS, the HV transmission lines have been in place my whole life, the substation was placed to tap into them.

  20. #19
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    >>Years ago, it started with one dairy farmer, who noticed that his milk production suddenly started dropping. He searched and dug around, but the cause for this sudden phenomenon was elusive, as a black cat in the night.
    The only thing that was diferent now, from before the sudden drop, was the new HV transmission line that was strung over his land.


    It wasnt a high voltage line, it was service line dug into the farmyard. The line wasnt grounded properly, and thus the reason why he was awarded damages.
    It took them quite a while to find out this problem, and no wonder the farmers decreased production !
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  21. #20
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    >>I think the guy who wrote the letter is a NIMBY (not in my back yard) and is fishing for reasons to protest wind turbines.


    Yes, exactly
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

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