Small Trackers Map Bee Behavior
Readers, used to pick up a signal from the kit, are connected to Raspberry Pi computers, which log the readings.
If you already have issues keeping track of where your children are, then you might want to take note that you are not exactly a detail oriented person. Which means you should probably not work with the likes of small insects, bees included. Keeping track of a flying insect is tough enough, but here is a tool that might help those in the field out – a new small tracker that has been specially designed to monitor bee behavior. This tracker is being tested by ecologists at Kew Gardens in London.
The device has a reach of up to 2.5m (8.2ft). Previously used models were restricted to 1cm (0.4in).
The tracker consists of a standard RFID (radio frequency identification) chip and a specially designed aerial, which Dr O’Neill has created to be thinner and lighter than other models used to track small insects, allowing him to boost the range.
The engineer, who is technical director at the Newcastle-based tech firm Tumbling Dice, is currently trying to patent the invention.
Working on the tracker is not too difficult, as it uses off-the-shelf technology and is based on equipment that is used to track pallets in warehouses. Creator Mark O’Neill claimed that the readers that will pick up a signal from the kit will remain connected to Raspberry Pi computers, and these computers in turn log the readings.
The tiny trackers, which are just 8mm (0.3in) high and 4.8mm (1.9in) wide, are stuck to the bees with superglue in a process which takes five to 10 minutes. The bees are chilled first to make them more docile.
“They make a hell of a noise,” acknowledged Dr O’Neill.
He told the BBC he hoped that the trackers – which weigh less than a bee and are attached at their centre of gravity so as not to affect their flight – would remain attached for their three-month expected lifespan.