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Tasmanian bees with microchips

Tasmanian bees with microchips

Greenpeace has warned that bee populations in Europe declined by 25% between 1985 and 2005. Recent data also reveals that 46% of the 68 European bumblebee species are in decline and 24% are in danger of extinction.

Several are the factors that supposedly threaten pollinators: the loss of habitats, the practices of industrialized agriculture, such as monocultures (less availability and diversity of food for these insects), the use of pesticides; parasites and diseases; invasive plant and animal species; and the impacts of climate change.

To delve into this problem, Australian researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Resear Organization (CSIRO), members of the VizzzBees project, have equipped 10,000 bees in Tasmania with 2.55 mm RFID micro-chips, which are attached to their backs. and that energetically feed on the energy that flows from the flapping of these insects.

At the same time, the hives where these bees live have been equipped with mini-computers, the size of a postage stamp, which record all the activity of the bees when they enter and leave the enclosure.

The idea of ‚Äč‚Äčthis experiment is to count the number of insects that are inside and outside the hive at all times, their comings and goings, if they change their habits, when and why. These computers also record the temperature inside the hive, the humidity, the composition of the air, and offer the data to the researchers in real time via Wifi or Bluetooth.

The investigation is completed with information on the behavior of bees obtained directly by observation in the field, in the surroundings of the hive, to find out if pesticides, changes in the ecosystem or human activities influence insects. Then the correlations will be determined, the data and their links to the bees will be analyzed and it will be possible to find out if the phasing out of bees can be stopped or slowed down.

Economic impact

It has been calculated that the economic value of the pollination work of bees could be around 265,000 million euros per year worldwide, 22,000 million for Europe and more than 2,400 million euros for Spain, recently calculated by Greenpeace in your "Food under threat" report.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO for its acronym in English) has shown in the report "UNEP Emerging Issues" that the decline of bees is occurring throughout the world and that the rest of pollinators are in the same situation. Indeed, recent EU restrictions on four insecticides are based on recent scientific evidence confirming the harmfulness of these products to bees.

In addition, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has raised concerns regarding two neonicotinoid pesticides, as they could also affect the development of the nervous system in humans.

Greenpeace warns that we could witness an irreversible decline in the populations of pollinating insects, which would imply a loss of productivity of the vast majority of crops (in Europe 84% of 264 crops depend on pollination by insects) and even the non-viability of others.

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