Bugging Bees

The monitoring of bees could lead to better management of their rapidly declining populations says the report of a research team led by the University of Missouri. The team has been using data recovered from tiny high-powered microphones used to snoop on bees during flight.

This has led to the development of algorithms that can use acoustic data in order to identify and quantify the number of bee buzzes in each field location and compare that data to corresponding visual surveys. These new acoustic surveys allow researchers to draw a far more detailed picture of bee activity than with visual methods alone.

The device also allows the sensitive microphones to be linked to the smart tablets of volunteer Citizen Scientists around the country whose assistance and participation can be utilized in monitoring the health of honeybees everywhere.

Though scientists have used sonic vibrations before in order to monitor birds, bats, frogs and other insects, listening this attentively to bees is actually a brand new methodology in the global fight for improved pollinator health.