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 .
The redevelopment of Shepparton Library, which will feature accessible shelving, a teen-specific area, a Skype booth and internet-enabled work stations, will be completed in the next two months.
The Ovens & Murray qualifying final between Yarrawonga and Lavington on Saturday left spectators talking more about the standard of umpiring than the two competing teams.
Greater Shepparton City Council was successful in securing the National Cutting Horse Association Victorian Futurity Cutting Horse Championships for 2014 and 2015, with this year’s event scheduled from September 10-14 at Tatura Park.
The Kiss Angels, 50 Shades of Hope team have come up with a creative way of fundraising for the Relay for Life, a purple potty.
District hotels and businesses may change rosters with penalty rates for casual employees on Sundays set to be cut.
Students visit local businesses for reading lessons
Bottle thrown at Jason Cole in bitter aftermath to Seymour-Benalla game on Saturday.
A truck driver is lucky to be alive after crashing into a Jerilderie home yesterday morning.
Chef and co-owner of Heathcote’s Willow Room Brent Loam is thrilled with the listing in the 2015 Age Good Food Guide
Cobram kids learn about health with hospital as state-wide obesity campaign is launched.
TRUCKtalk magazine all the rage with local truck drivers.
A few anxious customers were outside the closed gates of the failed Bee-Jay Machinery business on Goulburn Valley Hwy in Shepparton on Tuesday morning, wondering what would become of deposits they had paid for tractors and other machinery.
An unknown sum of money was stolen from Benalla Golf Club this morning after thieves broke into its gaming room.
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