Scientists Track Bee Activity With Microphones

Scientists Track Bee Activity With Microphones
Design

Webster University researchers believe this method could be a much more cost and time efficient method for monitoring bee activity

Emma Hutchings
  • 20 june 2017

Keeping track of pollinating bees can be expensive, so Webster University biological sciences professor Nicole Miller-Struttmann and her colleagues have come up with a solution to help lower the costs and pollination deficits. To do so, they tracked bees using microphones strategically placed in Colorado meadows and successfully predicted bee activity and pollination services.

bee-tracking.jpg

Using microphones and iPad minis, they recorded bees in three different alpine meadows on Pennsylvania Mountain, while also visually recording the number of bees foraging in the area. A computer algorithm was used to extrapolate how many buzzing sounds matching the frequency range of bees were recorded. These two counts were compared to gauge accuracy and found to be very accurate.

The researchers then tested to see if the amount of recorded buzzing accurately predicted if the bees were pollinating plants in an area or just flying near the microphones. Two sets of plants were set up, with one of them unable to be pollinated. The system used recorded sounds to successfully predict which flowers would set fruit and which woudn’t, indicating that this method could be used to track bee activity and also detect the services bees provide to the plants they visit.

Nicole Miller-Struttmann, the Laurance L. Browning, Jr. Endowed Professor in Biological Sciences, said in a news article:

“Tracking these dynamic populations is costly, and the current methods used to track them are time consuming and often lethal. We used inexpensive sound equipment to monitor for buzzing sounds created by bees as they fly. We then developed a computer algorithm that rapidly identifies and quantifies bee flight activity. We believe that our method could be a much more cost and time efficient method for monitoring bee activity.”

Check out how the sound of a bee changes between flight and pollination in the video below:

Webster University

Keeping track of pollinating bees can be expensive, so Webster University biological sciences professor Nicole Miller-Struttmann and her colleagues have come up with a solution to help lower the costs and pollination deficits. To do so, they tracked bees using microphones strategically placed in Colorado meadows and successfully predicted bee activity and pollination services.

+colorado
+Design
+microphone
+Science
+Sustainability
+Sustainability
+technology

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