Feeds

E-tagged insects a buzz for research

The Internet of things bees

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Australian science agency the CSIRO is fitting sensors onto thousands of honeybees in a research program designed to shed light on colony collapses.

The “swarm sensing” project uses 2.5mm-square devices that will be attached to as many as 5,000 bees in Hobart, Tasmania.

One aim of the project will be to work out which bees are visiting sites contaminated with agricultural chemicals, as project Dr Paulo de Souza explains: “Using this technology, we aim to understand the bee's relationship with its environment. This should help us understand optimal productivity conditions as well as further our knowledge of the cause of colony collapse disorder.”

The RFI tags will clock the bees in and out as they pass checkpoints, CSIRO says.

Bee with sensor attached

The Internet of bees: sensor attached and ready to go. Image: CSIRO

Attaching the tags is simple enough: the bees are refrigerated for a short while to make them groggy, allowing the tags to be super-glued to the insect on a shaved patch on the thorax. The tags are light and small enough not to interfere with the bees' activity or flight.

While the bee is still chilling, the tag is registered to an inventory.

The records of flight and swarming allows the researchers to build models of bee behaviour, provide detailed models of how both swarms and individuals move through a landscape – background information that will help the scientists provide advice both to beekeepers and the farmers that depend on them for pollination.

Bee landscape/swarming model

3D model built from tag data. Source: CSIRO

“Bees are social insects that return to the same point and operate on a very predictable schedule. Any change in their behaviour indicates a change in their environment. If we can model their movements, we'll be able to recognise very quickly when their activity shows variation and identify the cause. This will help us understand how to maximise their productivity as well as monitor for any biosecurity risks”, de Souza said.

Australia is currently free of colony collapse disorder (CCD), but understanding the dynamics of healthy colonies should contribute to studying CCD. The same applies to Varroa Mite, which hasn't arrived in Australia but haunts the nightmares of beekeepers here.

In future, CSIRO hopes to shrink the sensors down to 1mm x 1mm for research into other insects like mosquitoes and fruit fly.

CSIRO has a video of the project here. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Flamewars in SPAAACE: cooler fires hint at energy efficiency
Experiment aboard ISS shows we should all chill out for cleaner engines
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.