Microchipping Bees

A beekeeper in Manchester has started a new project to keep track of his bees – microchipping. An interesting and innovative technique, that is expected to monitor when bees enter and exit the hive.

Peter Carter, the project manager, spends a tedious amount of time working to microchip every single bee in the colony. It requires a set of tweezers, a miniature microchip, super glue, and a lot of patience. The bee is held down while a dot of super glue is placed on its back along with the chip. The tracker is only about 5 millimeters wide, making it bearable for the bee to wear.

These chips will allow beekeepers to monitor the production of honey, as well as the behavior of a bee. Bees are notorious for being intellectual insects, often doing dances and forming relationships with other bees in the hive. They take care of their young, and work as one moving unit. With these microchips, the bees will be monitored based on who they travel with, where they are going, and how long they stay out of the hive.

The goal of this project is to identify ways in which honey collecting can be made safer for not only the beekeeper, but the bee itself. Often, bees are killed once the honey is collected. When the pallets of honeycombs are lifted from their boxes, bees can be torn apart and killed instantly. New technologies have been created to combat this, including a product called Flow, a hive that never has to be opened to collect the honey.

Over the past few years, bee population numbers have significantly dropped due to pesticides and destruction of their habitats. No bees does not only mean no honey, but it also would drastically reduce pollination numbers among plants and flowers. Bees are more than necessary for a balanced environment, making their population a major priority to scientists and beekeepers.

In the next few months, researchers hope to have thousands of bees “connected to the internet” in hopes of collecting honey and data.


Featured photo courtesy of BBC.

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