Why Honey Bees are Given Tiny Backpacks? Bees play an important role in ecosystems and agriculture the world over. One third of the food we eat relies on pollination by bees, including fruit, vegetables, oils, seeds and nuts. They are the workhorse of crop pollination, yet globally the health of bees is under increasing pressure from a number of stress factors. This is leading to reduced hive numbers in some locations by up to 90 percent. To understand honeybee behavior and the various pressures they face, the CSIRO has developed micro-sensing technology, which allows scientists to monitor the behavior of individual bees using RF ID tags. Electronic readers attached to hives record the behavior of bees. The data is sent to a mini computer, which processes it and uploads it to the Cloud for analysis by scientists located anywhere in the world. Scientists can see the duration of bee missions, whether they are foraging for nectar, pollen or water, the effect of weather and how long bees rest between missions. Micro-sensor data has revealed bees visiting hives near their home colony with different amounts of mingling between bee populations. All of this data is providing insight into the lives of bees and their colonies. Based on this success, the CSIRO is partnering with scientists around the world in launching the global initiative for honeybee health, seeking to protect and improve the health of honeybees. The initiative will provide access to micro-sensing kits globally, then coordinate efforts of scientists and industry to gather and share a wealth of complex data. The CSIRO will also provide support using it’s expertise in bio-security, bee pathology and landscape ecology. Find out more by contacting the CSIRO.