Could Technology Save the Honey Bee?
Tiny technology, in the form of what some are calling "bee backpacks", might just save the honey bees
A lead scientific research agency in Australia has joined forces with Intel to collect data from honey bees in hopes of saving their dwindling population caused by the mysterious phenomenon of colony collapse disorder. The Global Initiative for Honey Bee Health (GIHH) was launched by Intel and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to solve the mystery of reports of disappearing and dying bees.
“In the US alone, honey bee hives are now declining by about 25 percent a year. There’s been a steady decline in hives since the 1940s but it’s getting worse,” said Professor Paulo de Souza, science leader at CSIRO.
Through the joint effort of Intel and CSIRO, they have created bee micro-sensor kits which can be placed inside hives to monitor the bees’ activity via tiny Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags that are glued on the bees’ backs. The project has seen scientists superglue these tags to the backs of 15,000 bees so far in Australia and Brazil, in a manual operation that includes refrigerating the insects.“The RFID tags attached to the bees relay data to the Edison in each hive,” explained de Souza, who compared the sensors to an airplane’s flight recorder or black box. “They provide us with vital information about what happened to the bees before the hive collapsed.”
According to Intel the information that is being collected will help researchers understand honey bee movement, behavior and responses to stressors like pesticides, water pollution, diet and other factors that affect bee health and pollination ability.