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14 Nov 2018

The Garden bees have backpacks

Honeybees aren't just providers of sweet tasting honey but they are great pollinators that help gardens grow. The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney recently worked with scientists from CSIRO and Hitachi to unlock the mysterious world of urban honeybees by collecting data through "backpacks" expertly placed on our bees.

Our bees enjoy an abundance of native and exotic plants from the Garden and across Sydney making them the perfect helpers for this new study. Hitachi and CSIRO developed an innovative tracking technology to understand bee behaviour better through ultra-tiny RFID tags placed on individual bee’s backs.

A bee with a backpack! Photo thanks to CSIRO

Scientists were able to track their movements and understand what stress factors or behaviours may be causing bee population to decline. Watch the video below to learn more about the project and how the Garden's bees helped assist researchers.

Initial results

The open collaboration between researchers, innovative technology and the Garden has seen a positive outcome with the backpacks producing data 24 hours a day for weeks at a time. Once the data has been fully analysed, we are hoping to find out other valuable information including the time honey bees leave and return to their beehive and the time they spend in their beehive. 

The results showed that 20% of bees from one hive will go to a different hive, stay a few days and then fly back home. Information like this helps researchers understand the spread of disease and colony collapse. 

Honey bee in the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

If you are hungry for more information check out the case-study with more results here or follow us on Facebook for regular updates. If you would like to help spread the word about Australian Pollinator Week, share the video online and use the hashtag #OZPollinatorWeek.

Category: News
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