Thousands of Australian bees are getting tagged for research
Bees are integral to the pollination of major crops around the world, so the more that we understand how they go about their business, the better we can facilitate the process and thereby boost yields.
With this in mind, scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) are taking the unprecedented step of equipping up to 5,000 honeybees with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags.
The flat, square tags measure 2.5 mm per side, and are being affixed with adhesive to the backs of bees in Hobart, Tasmania. The insects are first placed in a refrigerator to temporarily subdue them, and are then released when they awake after a few minutes. According to the researchers, the tags don't appear to impact the bees' ability to fly or perform other duties.
Once they've rejoined their hives, the bees will recommence joining in the daily swarming flights to nearby crops or other sources of pollen. As they travel, they'll pass by stationary checkpoints, that will detect the signals emitted by the tags. That data will be transmitted back to a central computer, which will assemble it all into a three-dimensional model, showing the scientists where all the bees are at what times.