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High-Tech Bee Monitors

November 9, 2015

Scientists monitor the health of bee colonies by analyzing the vibrations the insects make within their hives.

Transcript

M-T Ramsey NTU Accelerometer in honeycomb

An accelerometer attached to honeycomb records vibrations in a hive. (M.T. Ramsey/Nottingham Trent University)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

High-tech hive health. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Honeybees pollinate many of our food crops, but their populations are now threatened by colony collapse disorder. Enter physicist Martin Bencsik of Nottingham Trent University. He and his colleagues have developed a way for beekeepers to monitor the health of hives by analyzing the bees’ vibrations. They record these signals using accelerometers that are now built into most smartphones.

(SFX: Bee sounds)

MARTIN BENCSIK (Nottingham Trent University):

Even an experienced beekeeper will never have heard them. So it’s very much like entering a new world. We can tell without opening the hive whether a colony has got an active queen healthily laying the brood.

HIRSHON:

The signals also indicate whether the hive has enough honey to make it through the winter, The researchers presented the research at the meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Same day, after the installation was over

Martin Bencsik and research partner Yves Le Conte with hives. (INRA)