CSRIO leads Global Initiative for Honeybee Health (GIHH) research program using smart sensor bee backpacks.
The Global Initiative for Honey bee Health (GIHH) is an international collaboration of researchers, beekeepers, farmers, industry and technology companies. It has been set up by the CSRIO, who recognised the need for a collaborative, global effort to research threats to bee health.
The key aims are to protect and improve bee health, ensure sustainable crops production and increase productivity through coordinated management of pollination. That means they need detailed data on honeybees.
To gather this essential data, the CSIRO collaborated with Hitachi Chemical. They adopted Hitachi’s miniature Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag, which bees can wear on their back. The RFID tags are tiny 2.5mm x 2.5mm chips (aka bee backpacks) that are manually fitted to the bees. Strategically placed receivers then identify individual bees and record their movements.
This tiny technology allows researchers to keep an eye on a bee’s ability to pollinate. They can then analyse the effects of stress factors such as disease, pesticides, air pollution, water contamination, diet and extreme weather.
Each “sensing kit” consists of hardware, software, data and experimental protocols. Researchers can integrate this into behavioural, biological and ecological studies. They can apply the technology on a global scale to increase our knowledge of honey bee health.
The GIHH unites the efforts of scientists, beekeepers and farmers to identify management responses for the future of our bees and the food we rely on them for!
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