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 .
Shepparton police are seeking information about the disappearance of several items of World War II memorobilia, including medals, belonging to a Kialla woman.
The Australian Cricket Association has made the decision to postpone the Masters events scheduled for Yarrawonga this weekend in light of the serious injury to Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes.
Last week Victorian Collections passed a major milestone, with the 50000th historical object record from the state’s heritage collections uploaded to the site.
Cobb Haven residents are being swallowed up by tumbleweeds, which are taking over the facility.
Rochester Secondary College students have finished their final exams, taking the time to relax.
Candidate for Northern Victoria Robert Danielli lays out the issues facing the region
The porblems of recent years hopefully a thing of the past.
No luck for Finley in Murray Valley cricket.
Heathcote and District Community Bank Scholarship recipient Tarlyn Grant is encouraging others to apply
A soaring new sculpture is on track to bring pride, visitors and environmental awareness to Katamatite.
SunRice chair Gerry Lawson announced his pending retirement from the board overnight.
A spring Future Orchards walks will be held at Coomboona on Friday November 28 from 9.30am.
The surpsingly vindictive but highly satisfying sport of croquet is being enjoyed by more residents of Benalla the the Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
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.