Over the last couple of years, scientists and researchers have observed an increasingly large number of bee colony disappearances. Researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are attempting to pinpoint the factors that lead to the widespread death of honey bee colonies everywhere. They are calling this phenomenon Colony Collapse Disorder.

CSIRO partnered with Intel to create an RFID backpack that is a third of the weight of a bee and has a battery than generates power from the vibration bee’s naturally produce. CSIRO has used a Intel Edison-based system to minotor 50 tags, comprised of an Atom process, 1GB of memory, 5GB of storage, and dual-band wireless WiFi and Bluetooth. Over 10,000 bees have been tagged in Tasmania.

The research is in progress.

The device can analyze stress effects of factors like disease, pesticide, air pollution, water contaimination, diet, and extreme weather. This includes how the bees move and their ability to pollinate. Bees are fairly predictable so a device that can track their movements could leads researchers to be able to identify what exactly is leading them to act so strangely and causing their fatal deaths.

The recent death rates for bees is alarmingly high. Since bees are responsible for pollinating around 33% of our food sources, vegetables, and fruit prices could go extremely high without their help. Australia seems like the ideal place to study bees since their colonies are not yet affected by a parasite called the Varroa mite which has caused numerous colonies elsewhere in the world.

Researchers from Brazil, Medico, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom have also joined CSIRO’s Global Initiative for Honey Bee Health. The research in Australia will serve as a control group.

The findings will be released next year.

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