Feeds

E-tagged insects a buzz for research

The Internet of things bees

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

10 ways wire data helps conquer IT complexity
IT teams can automatically detect problems across the IT environment, spot data theft, select unique pieces of transaction payloads to send to a data source, and more.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
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 and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.