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Friday, October 4, 2013

Scientists to use GPS to Track Bumblebees

As reported by KWG: Imagine a GPS unit small and light enough to fit on the back of a bumblebee. Researchers down at Oregon State University plan to build one.

Researchers often use sensors to track species like birds or fish. The OSU scientists hope to use that same technology on a much tinier scale to track local bumblebee populations.

Entomology professor Sujaya Rao is leading the effort.

Rao wants to track the bees to find out why worldwide the key pollinator is in decline.

Without bee pollination, Rao says about a third of the food we eat wouldn't even be around.
So Rao teamed up with engineers at the University and together they are now working to develop a mini wireless tracking device that could be glued to the back of the insect.

“We can then figure out ways to build their populations, to sustain their populations, to make sure they will be here even though the landscape is always changing,” Rao said.

The $500,000 research project is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rao says it will likely take another two years before the miniature wireless sensors are built, but she's confident her research will help revolutionize how we study bees in the future.