Scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation (CSIRO), Australia's national science agency, said the
microchips could help tackle so-called colony collapse disorder, a
situation where bees mysteriously disappear from hives, and the
encroachment of the parasitic varroa mite.
Scientists will use tweezers to glue on the sensors, weighing about
5 milligrams and measuring 2.5 millimeters (a little more than 1/16
of an inch) square, after soothing the bees to sleep by
Some young bees, which tend to be hairier than older bees, need to
be shaved before the sensor can be glued on.
Scientists will examine the effectiveness of pesticides in
protecting the bees from colony collapse disorder and varroa mite.
The study will also enable farmers and fruit growers to understand
and manage their crops, given the honey bee's crucial role in the
pollination of crops globally, the CSIRO said in a statement issued
"Honey bees play a vital role in the landscape through a free
pollination service for agriculture, which various crops rely on to
increase yields," the CSIRO's Paulo de Souza, who is leading the
project, said in the statement.
"Using this technology, we aim to understand the bee's relationship
with its environment."
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Scientists plan to fit sensors on 5,000 bees in the southern island
state of Tasmania over the Australian summer.
The radio frequency identification sensors work like an electronic
tag for cars on a toll road, recording when insects pass a
checkpoint. That will allow scientists to build a three-dimensional
image of the insects' movements, a process described as "swarm
The scientists are working on shrinking the sensor to 1 mm square so
they can be attached to smaller insects, including mosquitoes.
(Editing by Jane Wardell and Ron Popeski)
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