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Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Bee buzzes could help determine how to save their decreasing population

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June 7, 2017  University of Missouri-Columbia  see full ScienceDaily article here

Widespread and effective monitoring of bees could lead to better management of populations; however, tracking bees is tricky and costly. Now, a research team has developed an inexpensive acoustic listening system using data from small microphones in the field to monitor bees in flight. The study shows how farmers could use the technology to monitor pollination and increase food production.

Causes of pollinator decline are complex and include diminishing flower resources, habitat loss, climate change, increased disease incidence and exposure to pesticides, so pinpointing the driving forces remains a challenge,”…”Eavesdropping on the acoustic signatures of bee flights tells the story of bee activity and pollination services,” Galen said. “Farmers may be able to use the exact methods to monitor pollination of their orchards and vegetable crops and head off pollination deficits. Finally, global ‘citizen scientists’ could get involved, monitoring bees in their backyards.

Nicole E. Miller-Struttmann, David Heise, Johannes Schul, Jennifer C. Geib, Candace Galen. Flight of the bumble bee: Buzzes predict pollination services. PLOS ONE, 2017; 12 (6): e0179273 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179273

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