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Honey Bees and Backpacks

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you've heard about colony collapse disorder by now (where honey bees suddenly disappear from a hive) and you already know that without these bees, our food sources would dwindle rapidly. But do you know how far scientists are going to get to the source of this global problem?

In Australia, where colony collapse disorder has not yet been reported, scientists from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are attaching tiny sensors (2.5mm x 2.5mm) to the back of bees. Up to 5000 bees will be refrigerated for up to five minutes, just long enough to make them sleep. Then the back of the furry bees will be shaved and the sensor is glued to their back. No harm is done to the bee. dr Paulo de Souza, a scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization states: “Each sensor weight is about 5 milligrams. This is about 20 percent of what the bee can carry. So the bee can carry a lot of weight in pollen, in nectar, so this is like someone carrying a small backpack.”

The bees are then released on the island of Tasmania. In some cases, bees feeding on chemically-treated crops will be monitored. Scientists can then track the bees' movements in comparison to bees which have not come into contact with any chemicals and try to learn how pesticide use contributes to colony collapse disorder.

Source: csiro

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