Honey bee video monitoring- Intel researchers tackle agricultural issues

Love them or hate them, without Honey Bee’s we won’t survive. Bee’s pollinate the everyday foods we eat making them vital to our way of life. The honey bee population here in the US is in critical condition from what scientists are calling “Colony Collapse Disorder” or CCD where bees leave their hives to pollinate and never return. What is causing CCD is still unknown.

As bee populations continue to decline for reasons that baffle scientists, researchers at Intel Research Pittsburgh at Carnagie Mellon University are in the early stages of utilizing video sensing to learn more about honey bee behaviors. A camera above the entrance of the hive records the arrivals and departures of each bee allowing researchers to track numbers and essentially the overall health of a particular hive or colony.

While visiting the lab open house yesterday I spoke with researcher and hobbyist bee keeper Lilly Mummert to learn more about the project.

“The flight activity of a honey bee colony is an important indicator of its strength and condition”, she says, “hive monitoring has been done in the past with infrared systems and has been effective, what’s different about what we’re doing here is that using a video sensing system is a completely non-invasive and does not disrupt the natural activity of a colony.”

This video shows how each bee is tracked as it enters and exits the hive.

The goal of this project is to continue to study bee colonies and eventually gather useful information that could possibly stop CCD before it starts in otherwise healthy bee colonies across the country.

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