Feeds

E-tagged insects a buzz for research

The Internet of things bees

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
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.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.