Buzzworthy: Honeybees being outfitted with micro sensors

Buzzworthy: Honeybees being outfitted with micro sensors

Scientists are tracking the tiny flyers to try to find out why their numbers are diminishing.

Honeybees are in trouble.  As the world became aware this summer, global numbers of honeybees are declining rapidly.  Scientists from the Global Initiative for Honeybee Health are hoping to figure out why by attaching micro sensors to bees and following their daily journeys.

As Australia’s Pulse reports, bees’ numbers are going downhill in a phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder.”  The Natural Defense Resource Council estimates that 1/3 of US bee colonies have died off.  While anyone who may have been stung might not be too upset at the news, bees are an essential part of our ecological system.  By pollinating female flower gametes with the male gametes from the flower stamen, honeybees are essential to keeping all sorts of flowering plants alive and flourishing.

In response, 15,000 honeybees native to Australia and Brazil have been fitted with high-tech “back-packs.”  The micro-sensors weigh less than 5 milligrams and can track the bees’ movement throughout nature and within the hive without interfering with their lives.

Dr. Paulo de Souza, a lead scientist within the effort, is hopeful this information can help save the bees.  “This tiny technology allows researchers to analyze the effects of stress factors including disease, pesticides, air pollution, water contamination, diet and extreme weather on the movement of bees and their ability to pollinate,” he said.  “We’re also investigating what key factors, or combinations of factors, lead to bee deaths en masse.”

Fly safely, little friends.

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