CSIRO calls on researchers worldwide to join forces to save honey bees

CSIRO_Logo

 

Honey bees are essential for the pollination of about one third of the food we eat – including fruit, vegetables, oils, seeds and nuts – yet their health and ability to pollinate our crops is under serious threat.

News release August 25, 2015 CSIRO

 

To help tackle this worldwide problem, CSIRO is leading the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health – an international collaboration of researchers, beekeepers, farmers, industry, and technology companies aimed at better understanding what is harming bees and finding solutions to help secure crop pollination.

The Varroa mite, seen here latched onto a bee pupae, is the most significant pest to honeybees around the world. © CSIRO
The Varroa mite, seen here latched onto a bee pupae, is the most significant pest to honeybees around the world.
© CSIRO

 

The health of honey bees is under increasing pressure on a global scale. The impact of losing the free pollination services provided by feral honey bees will be farmers paying beekeepers to bring bees in to pollinate their crops, resulting in price hikes in everything from cucumbers and oranges, to cashews and onions. © CSIRO
The health of honey bees is under increasing pressure on a global scale. The impact of losing the free pollination services provided by feral honey bees will be farmers paying beekeepers to bring bees in to pollinate their crops, resulting in price hikes in everything from cucumbers and oranges, to cashews and onions.
© CSIRO

Integral to the research effort are micro-sensors that are manually fitted to bees which work like a vehicle e-tag system, with strategically placed receivers identifying individual bees and recording their movements in and around bee hives.

“The tiny technology allows researchers to analyse the effects of stress factors including disease, pesticides, air pollution, water contamination, diet and extreme weather on the movements of bees and their ability to pollinate,” Professor Paulo de Souza, CSIRO Science Leader, said.

“We’re also investigating what key factors, or combination of factors, lead to bee deaths on mass.”

“The sensors, working in partnership with Intel technology, operate in a similar way to an aeroplane’s black box flight recorder in that they provide us with vital information about what stress factors impact bee health.”

The Global Initiative for Honey Bee Health (GIHH) is an international alliance of researchers led by the CSIRO. In a world first, the GIHH will seek to address threats to honey bee health through a world-wide data collection exercise. © CSIRO
The Global Initiative for Honey Bee Health (GIHH) is an international alliance of researchers led by the CSIRO. In a world first, the GIHH will seek to address threats to honey bee health through a world-wide data collection exercise.
© CSIRO

As bees are normally predictable creatures, changes in their behaviour indicate stress factors or a change in their environment. By modelling bee movement researchers can help identify the causes of stress in order to protect the important pollinating work honey bees do and identify any disease or other biosecurity risks.

CSIRO Pollination Researcher, Dr Saul Cunningham, said Australia has been very lucky, so far, to be the only country that doesn’t have the devastating Varroa mite, which has wiped out bee colonies overseas at an alarming rate.

“This puts Australia in a good position to act as a control group for research on this major issue that could one day become our problem too,” Dr Cunningham said.

However, Australia’s horticulture and agricultural industries are particularly vulnerable to declines in honey bee populations as they rely on un-managed feral honey bees for much of their crop pollination.

Honey bees are essential for food production, providing pollination services for around one third of the food we eat. © CSIRO
Honey bees are essential for food production, providing pollination services for around one third of the food we eat.
© CSIRO

“Our managed bee pollination services would be hard-pressed to meet the extra demand required to replace the key role un-managed honey bees play so, the outcome would likely be a drop in crop production and a rise in prices of popular food staples like fruit and veggies,” Dr Cunningham said.

The international initiative is being mounted to assist in uniting the efforts of those working in the critical area of protecting bee health.

“The time is now for a tightly-focused, well-coordinated national and international effort, using the same shared technology and research protocols, to help solve the problems facing honey bees worldwide before it is too late,” Professor de Souza said.

A sensor is placed onto the back of a drone bee. Data gathered by the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health (GIHH) will provide valuable information to scientists, beekeepers, primary producers, industry groups and governments to achieve impacts around improved biosecurity measures, crop pollination, bee health, food production and better strategies on sustainable farming practices, food security and impacts on ecosystems in general. © CSIRO
A sensor is placed onto the back of a drone bee. Data gathered by the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health (GIHH) will provide valuable information to scientists, beekeepers, primary producers, industry groups and governments to achieve impacts around improved biosecurity measures, crop pollination, bee health, food production and better strategies on sustainable farming practices, food security and impacts on ecosystems in general.
© CSIRO

 

Σχολιάστε

Εισάγετε τα παρακάτω στοιχεία ή επιλέξτε ένα εικονίδιο για να συνδεθείτε:

Λογότυπο WordPress.com

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό WordPress.com. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Twitter

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Twitter. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Facebook

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Facebook. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Φωτογραφία Google+

Σχολιάζετε χρησιμοποιώντας τον λογαριασμό Google+. Αποσύνδεση / Αλλαγή )

Σύνδεση με %s