Researchers are tracking honey bees via micro-sensors, as their populations are in decline. The pollinators’ numbers are rapidly decreasing, so Australian scientists wanted to find answers to this concerning issue by tracking and equipping them with sensor backpacks, offering an identity to honey bees and hives. The system basically acts as a bar code for each specific bee.
The honey bees pollinate approximately 70 percent of worldwide crops, which roughly represent one third of the food consumed by people, including fruits and vegetables.
The declining hives number phenomenon has been scientifically named “colony collapse disorder”, which implies the fact that millions of adult honey bees have suddenly died, due to factors including climate change and pesticides.
A representative from Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, Gary Fitt, said that the micro-sensors allowed his team to
“quantify the behavior of bees both out in the environment and in their hives.”
The micro-sensors weigh less than the honey bees’ gathered pollen and they’re placed on the backside of these European insects. The sensors display a truly feeble weight and width and they’re not a burden for the buzzing bees.
Free access to information and data recorded by the micro-sensors is offered by the CSIRO, who have been working with two firms – Intel and Hitachi, US-based and Japanese-based tech firms, respectively.
Fitt, who is the science director of the CSIRO’s health and biosecurity division, reported that the data they gathered via the sensors was, essentially, environmental information regarding where the bees roam. He said that the backside sensors revealed information on
“how often and how long they’re foraging, whether they’re feeding, whether they’re collecting pollen, what they’re doing in the hives.”
Their aim was to interpret these changes in bees’ behavior so that they could analyze how they reacted to different stress factors, including diet habits, disease, insecticides and water pollution, also climate changes and air quality.
Approximately 10,000 bees have been tagged, including their hives, in the island Tasmania, whereas they also intend to start monitoring bees from two cities – Sydney and Canberra. Scientists from Brazil, Europe and North America have also showed interest while taking a closer look at the issue. Brazil-based scientists have started monitoring the pollinators, whereas the North Americans and Europeans showed support regarding the problem.
The idea was to analyze different bee populations from around the world, in order for scientific circles to look at the bigger picture, while analyzing bee locomotion.
Unfortunately, US bee mortality rates increased, as the Department of Agriculture reported that 42 percent of bee colonies were lost during the last 12 months to May this year.
Photo Credits ophrysphotography.co.uk