Technology tracks ‘bee talk’ to help improve honey bee health

August 8, 2017

From: Simon Fraser University Press Release
Simon Fraser University researcher Oldooz Pooyanfar has developed a bee monitoring system to study honey bee health. Credit: SFU

Simon Fraser University graduate student Oldooz Pooyanfar is monitoring what more than 20,000 honeybees housed in hives in a Cloverdale field are “saying” to each other — looking for clues about their health.

Pooyanfar’s technology is gleaning communication details from sound within the hives with her beehive monitoring system — technology she developed at SFU. She says improving knowledge about honey bee activity is critical, given a 30 per cent decline in the honeybee population over the past decade in North America. Research into the causes of what is referred to as Colony Collapse Disorder continues. The presence of fewer bees affects both crop pollination and the environment.

Pooyanfar’s monitoring platform is placed along the wall of the hive and fitted with tiny sensors containing microphones (and eventually, accelometers) that monitor sound and vibration. Temperature and humidity are also recorded. Her system enables data collection on sound within the hives and also tracks any abnormalities to which beekeepers can immediately respond.

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