Ecologists have now come up with a new and improved tracking device in order to monitor bee behaviour. The new device can cover upto a range of 2.5 meters (8.2ft) unlike the previous devise used which had a restricted range of reach to 1 centimetre (0.4 inch).
As per Dr Mark O’Neill this new device has been created from off-the shelf technology and it is ideally based on equipment used to track pallets in warehouse. This tracker comprises of a specially designed aerial and a standard radio frequency identification also commonly known as RFID which as per Dr Mark O’Neill is much thinner and lighter than the previously used models to track small insects. This allows Dr O’Neill to widen the range. Readers which are connected to Raspberry Pi Computers pick up the signals from the kit and log the readings.
The technical director from Newcastle-based tech firm Tumbling Dice who is also the engineer is trying to patent the invention. He said that he wanted to make a lot smaller optimised aerial components and the first stage was to make raw pre-production tags utilising components that could be easily purchased.
He added by saying that he felt like he was doing a surgery while soldering them at his desk and he has made 50 of these as of now. As per Dr O’Neill a worker bee on an average spends 20 minutes on forage time which eventually would work around 1km which is equivalent to 0.6 miles on the forage time.
This device has been fitted only the worker bees which do not mate. As per Dr Mark O’Neill most worker bees die of old age and the attrition field of these bees are very low. He also added that if any animal ate one of these worker bees then there would be a tracker in its stomach. He said that that the minute trackers are just 8mm which is 0.3 inches high and 4.8 which is 1.9 inches in width and take 5 to 10 minutes to attach to the bees with superglue. These bees are chilled to make them passive first before they are fitted with the device.
Also being concerned about the bees, Dr Mark O’Neill informed British Broad Casting (BBC) that he only hopes that the trackers which weigh less than the bees are attached to the centre of gravity which apparently would not affect their flight and also would be attached to the bees for their expected life span of three months. While commenting the same Dr Mark O’Neill also acknowledges that these bees make a lot of noise.
A restoration ecologist from Kew Gardens, Dr Sarah Barlow was a part of testing these trackers which is yet to be named. She informed that these are all a huge leap forward in radio technology and as of now there is no one with a decent medium to long range tag yet which is suitable for flying on small insects. She added that this new leap forward will help scientists to track bees in the landscape.