A new project tries to understand bees better using tiny RFID chips. Scientists attached chips onto bees to study their movements.
Bees are very small but extremely vital to the world. Their free service of pollination plants is in danger as bee populations have crashed. Scientists still do not fully understand the causes. A new initiative led by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) uses micro-sensors to track bees.
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Thousands of bees have been manually equipped with an RFID chip on their back.
“The tiny technology allows researchers to analyze the effects of stress factors including disease, pesticides, air pollution, water contamination, diet and extreme weather on the movements of bees and their ability to pollinate,” Professor Paulo de Souza, CSIRO Science Leader, said.
The chips have been developed with Intel. Bees are normally very predictable. Changes in their behavior indicate that there is something wrong. By modeling bee movement researchers can try to identify the causes of stress in order to find a a way to protect the bees.
Australia has been so far the only country that did not face the devastating Varroa mite.
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“This puts Australia in a good position to act as a control group for research on this major issue that could one day become our problem too,” Dr Cunningham said.