The vibration patterns of bees may give clues to the state of their hives – how well or bad they are doing – the scientists find.
Scientists at Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom created a device to figure out the vibration patterns of bees using accelerometers. The vibrations indicate how well the bees are doing in the hives.
“We [wanted] to develop a tool to find out the status of honeybee colonies – if the colony is starving, if there is a lot of foraging going on, or if the bees are preparing to swarm,” Dr. Martin Bencsik, a scientist at the School of Science & Technology at Nottingham Trent University, said.
The accelerometer is similar to a microphone, but the difference is that it collects and measures vibrations instead of sounds. For instance when you put your hand on a purring cat, you feel vibrations and it is those types of vibrations that can be measured using an accelerometer, Dr. Bencsik explained.
The scientists placed the accelerometers next to the honeycomb cells where the bees went for honey, pollen or brood. They did not seem to mind the accelerometers. It turns out that the devices do not disturb the bees at all.
Beekeepers and scientists will be able to monitor the health of the hive using the ultrasensitive accelerometers – which are now in a prototype phase – without having to interfere with the natural rhythms of the hives.
‘Begging signals’ – which the bees use to persuade foraging bees to bring them food – can be detected with the accelerometers.
Dances like the ‘begging signal’ unveil complex relationships between various bees in the hive. Beekeepers may be able to protect their hives from colony collapse disorder (CCD) – a phenomenon in which most worker bees and nurses leave the hive – if the accelerometers interpret the changes in vibration correctly.
Scientists found that ‘begging signals’ decrease during winter and swarming activities are higher in the summertime. Swarming occurs when a queen bee and the worker bees leave their current hive in search for a new one.
The findings show how honeybees make group decisions among 20 to 40 thousand individuals, Dr. Bencsik said.
The Initial findings were presented on Tuesday at the Acoustical Society of America this week in Florida, by Michael-Thomas Ramsey – a student of Dr. Bencsik.
Image Source: media.news.harvard