Bees are being fitted with tiny sensors in a bid to solve a major threat to the insects.January 21, 2014 12:00am
How do you tag a swarm of angry honey bees?
You create a hive of activity in a refrigerator so they can chill out.
Once the buzz dies down, you know the cold air has taken the sting out of the insects so tiny sensors can safely be attached to their backs.
Thousands of bees are being tagged this way in a world first research program that aims to improve bee pollination and productivity.
The CSIRO-led ‘‘swarm sensing’’ project also aims to better understand what’s causing Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a condition decimating honey bee populations worldwide.
‘‘Internationally it’s important because the world is worried about bees disappearing,’’ CSIRO science leader Dr Paulo de Souza said.
Up to 5000 sensors, measuring 2.5
Each day, bees are captured from hives and taken to the lab where they are refrigerated for a short time so they fall into a state of rest.
The radio frequency identification sensors are then stuck to their backs with adhesive and, after a few minutes, they fly back to their hives.
The sensors record the bees passing particular checkpoints, allowing researchers to use signals to construct a comprehensive 3D model and visualise how the insects move through the landscape.
Some bees will feed at sites with trace amounts of commonly used chemicals, allowing researchers to assess how pesticides, believed to be a cause of CCD, affect bee movement.
As honey bees are creatures of habit, any change in behaviour indicates a change in their environment.
Better understanding of bee behaviour, Dr de Souza said, would allow farmers and fruit growers to maximise the potential for pollination, boosting productivity and helping in monitoring biosecurity risks.
While Australia is free from the threat of CCD and the destructive varroa mite, farmers are becoming worried about declining pollination.
Some Tasmanian apple growers had reported pollination rates had significantly dropped last season with production falling about 30 per cent, Dr de Souza said.
He said about one third of the food we ate relied on pollination.
The CSIRO is working with the University of Tasmania, beekeepers and fruit growers to trial the ‘‘swarm sensing’’ technology.
The next stage of the study is to reduce the size of the sensors to a mere 1
‘‘It (swarm sensing) is likely to be used for a lot of the creatures we haven’t been able to track so far,’’ Dr de Souza said.
‘‘It’s a new tool to understand ecology and the relationship among the species .
A Tatura mother of two young girls says she has lost everything after fire engulfed her house.
The Yarrawonga Pigeons scored a 20 point victory over the Myrtleford Saints at the JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga on Saturday.
The Aboriginal and wider community is mourning the death of revered Bangerang Aboriginal elder, Uncle John ‘‘Sandy’’ Atkinson.
TANTALISING tastes will be on the menu at this year’s Flavours of Echuca- Moama food festival to be held Sunday, May 15 at Morrisons Winery.
FOUR Rochester residents did more than their bit for women’s cancers mid last month when they trekked 60km around Melbourne to raise funds for the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.
Tongala Football Club lost to Rumbalara in the Murray Netball League on Saturday by 14 points.
Four generations of Comi girls this Mother's Day
Berrigan Shire councillor Daryll Morris says he has been sickened by some of the vitriol and personal attacks to surface since the council’s proposal to redevelop Finley’s Memorial Hall and School of Arts site was revealed in October last year.
DESPITE criticism from within the community over a perceived lack of use, the O’Keefe Rail Trail has enjoyed good traffic over the past couple of weeks, with more to come.
The usual yellow and black colours at Katamatite Recreation Reserve will be replaced this Mother’s Day as pink will be the colour of choice.
Jake has babies to thank for surviving cancer.
Fonterra suppliers are reeling after the announcement of a big cut in the milk price from $5.60/kg to $5 for the full current year.
The News magazines are online - read high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for the latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.