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Bee Backpacks Track Foraging

Bee Backpacks Track Foraging

Most of us now are acquainted with wearable computers. But that is for the humans. How about one for the bees Yes, that is precisely what Mark O Neill and colleagues at Kew Gardens in London have done. A tiny radio device has been developed by the team and this device can be glued to the bee s back to help track its behavior.

For several thousand years, humans have taken the ability of bees to pollinate food. But scanty or no attention was paid to this until the bees started dying in large numbers from colony collapse and Varroa mite disorder.

Thus, it became essential to understand where the bees went, how they pollinated, the distance they traveled and other allied data. Thankfully, through Mark O Neill and his team of researchers, technology has found an answer to the problem.

The data on bee behavior becomes vital to understand the cause of their death and find a means to reverse the decline.

The device employs the conventional RFID technology similar to what toll booths use to relay payment information. These lightweight trackers are just about a millimeter tall and 1.5 mm wide while the length is 3 mm with a whip antenna that is about 12 mm long. The device is glued to the back of the bees after they have been chilled to make them more docile.

The range of the signal is between 0.5 and 1.2 m. Radio receivers are positioned around the bee hive and a field of flowers to record unique radio signals from the bees every time they fly past. Scientist then map the activities of the bees using data obtained from the radio receivers.

Initial experiments have shown the about 20 minutes is the average forage time for a worker bee which translates to about 6 miles flight from the hive.

Last year, a similar experiment was carried out by a scientific team in Australia at CSIRO.

Finally, the bees seem to be getting a lot more attention that they deserve!

Bee Backpacks Track Foraging

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