Scientists Using Tiny Sensors to Track Honey Bees

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beeHoney bees have been in a number of science articles over the past few years as their population has been steadily declining. The efforts of a group of Australian scientists could help the world gain an understanding of how the spread of diseases has wiped out bee populations in the northern hemisphere. According to an eScience News article, the scientists are tracking the bees’ movements in an effort to halt the spread of diseases that are at the root of the disappearance of bee populations in the northern hemisphere.

In the trial, researchers from Australia’s national science agency, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), glued tiny sensors onto thousands of honey bees to track their movements. The scientists’ hope is that they will be able to learn how to solve the problem of colony collapse disorder, the name given to the situation where bees have mysteriously disappeared from hives while the parasitic varroa mite has encroached on the bees’ territory.

According to the article, the scientists performed the study by using tweezers to glue the sensors onto the bees’ backs after they have been soothed to sleep with the use of refrigeration. Younger bees with more hair had to be shaved before the sensor could be glued into place. The scientists will use the tiny sensors that weigh in at about 5 mg and measure 2.5 ml to determine the effectiveness of pesticides in the fight against colony collapse disorder and the varroa mite.

While many magazines reported their amusing take on the idea of tiny honey bees flying around with backpacks, scientists and others know the important role that honey bees play in the growth of food crops. The study will provide farmers and fruit growers with information that will aid them in growing and managing crops globally.

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