Bees Rigged With RFID Trackers Show Consequences of Parasites on Bee Pollen Production

Whether they like it or not, bees are the center of attention in the world of scientific studies. This be may be due in part to fact that so many earthly ecosystems depend on their pollination to thrive, or because bee behavior is simply fascinating. Either way, this focus has led researchers to place trackers on honeybees in hives. The results reveal that some of these bees have actually completely lost their ability to pollinate, leading experts to panic about the future of bees and the ecosystems which depend so heavily on them.

The bees just can’t do it anymore

Bees Rigged With RFID Trackers Show Consequences of Parasites on Bee Pollen Production - ClapwayThe overworked honeybees just won’t get to work, it seems. According to the research executed by Dr. Lori Lach of James Cook University, those bees infected with the parasite Nosema Apis sharply decrease their pollination. This has devastating effects if the parasites become or have become widespread.

According to Dr. Lach’s research, “our finding that bees inoculated with a low dose of N. ap is carried less pollen on their body than non-inoculated bees is novel and suggests potential effects of parasitism on pollination mediated through behavior as well as mortality. Decreased carriage of pollen available for pollinating may arise from a preference for nectar foraging or shorter or fewer floral visits.”

A Bee Research Method Never Used Before


Her research indicates that even in small doses, the infectious parasite can disrupt behavior for an entire hive. In order to capture this information, experts studied these honeybees in way they’ve never really been studied — by gluing Radio Frequency Identification devices (RFID chips) to their backs in order to monitor their beehive behavior.

Lach talks about the difficulty of mounting identification chips to such small insects, “We just had to hold them in our hands and hope the glue dried quickly eough. It was actually quite a process — they had to be individually painted, then individually fed, then the tag glued on. Then individually scanned so we knew which tag was on what color and treatment bee and which hive it was going into.”

If bees just stopped pollinating everywhere

This information gained is important not only to beekeepers and scientists, but to everyone living on our planet today. Without them, we wouldn’t be likely to survive either. According to Dr Lach, “The real implications from this work are for humans. About a quarter of our food production is dependent on honey bee pollination. Declines in the ability of honeybees to pollinate will result in lower crop yields.”

If they became infected with the parasite on a larger scale, our crop yield and produce output would decrease. Massive, long-lasting food shortages would begin–and with no end in sight, the outcome would be bleak. Studies of bees such as this one are essential to understanding the health of the world’s honeybee populations, and this new RFID technology allows researchers to tap into information about effects of parasites on bees that they never could before.


Clapway Trends introduces SensorWake for the busy pollinators out there: