The world has seen a drastic decline in the population of pollinators, so now, honey bee health will be tracked with tiny sensors placed upon their backs in order to understand the cause of their mass demise. It affects the humanity worldwide, so scientists have designed a hopeful way of finding much needed answers.
One third of our food, including fruits and vegetables, and 70% of our crops are pollinated by honey bees, so their rapid plummet is causing worries everywhere about the future food security of our planet. In some countries, including the United States, farmers have lost 42% of their honey bee population within the last year. Farmers in China have even taken to providing pollination by hand.
The drastic and worrying fall in numbers has been attributed to habitat loss, the death of millions of adult bees, otherwise known as “colony collapse disorder” due to a disease caused by Varroa, harmful pesticides and climate change that features extreme temperatures. It makes life much more difficult and much shorter for the avidly needed insects.
A group of international scientists and researchers that include beekeepers and technology companies have developed a way to track down the honey bees throughout their life in order to hopefully gain an answer to a rapidly growing problem. Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has partnered up with Intel and Hitachi in order to create a tiny micro-sensor to attach to 10,0000 honey bees.
The little “backpacks” will gently be attached with tweezers, weighing a mere 5.4 milligrams (which is 0.0002 ounces), which is actually lighter than the pollen a bee can collect. It will be stamp sized, square, at 2.5 millimeters each side (which is approximately 0.1 inches).
The tiny device will help track down times when the honey bee leaves the hive and how far it travels throughout the rest of its life, and will be sending back the data to sophisticated devices planted into their homes. According to CSIRO science leader, professor Paulo de Souza, it will provide crucial information and will consume very little energy, wireless, and powered by solar panels.
It will be a small, flexible device that will not hinder upon the bee’s life, but could greatly increase humanity’s chances at a better future. They will gather vital environmental information about their usual patterns and changes in behavior, along with how they respond to various stress sources.
The project will take over two years to collect data, and researchers are hoping to have 2.5 million honey bees tracked with the high-tech micro-sensors, and 1,000 hives implanted with data gathering devices worldwide.
It is in their hope that they will find a solution to a grave problem before consequences are felt much more harshly upon the entire human population.
Image source: theaustralian.com.au