Bee buzzes critical to calculating crop pollination

Farmers may soon have a better idea on how well their crops are being pollinated, thanks to new research into the buzzes of bees.

In 2014 and 2015, researchers in Missouri were monitoring bee noises in the Colorado Rocky Mountains by using small microphones called acoustic listening systems.

In findings published last June, they found that if the acoustic systems were picking up more bees buzzing, the bees were doing a lot more pollinating.

“It’s not rocket science, but it is informative,” said Nicole Miller-Struttmann, who was part of the research team and currently teaches at Webster University in St. Louis, Mo.

“The more bees there are, the better the pollination services.”

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Knowing this buzzing activity would be extremely helpful for farmers, she said, because many rely on bees or other pollinators to grow successful crops.

For instance, if buzzes are low, farmers would know they need to bring in more honey bees. If buzzes are high, they might not need to bring in any.

“If wild populations are doing enough pollinating, farmers might not need to spend lots of money and time,” Miller-Struttmann explained. “On the flip side, it can be an early warning signal, where they can take action and bring in more bees if they need to.”

So, to get this technology in the hands of farmers, the research team plans to develop an app that would work in conjunction with acoustic listening systems, which would be available for purchase.

“These microphones are a pretty inexpensive way to track these bees,” Miller-Struttmann said, “and therefore they help farmers with how they manage their farm.”

Kevin Serfas, a director with the Alberta Canola Producers who farms near Turin, Alta., said this technology would be particularly helpful for canola seed producers who buy pollinating services from beekeepers.

‘If you’re able to tell what the activity is like on the field, you’ll be able to be more efficient,” he said. “If one field needs more bees, while the other has more than enough, you would be able to shift them around.”

Jake Berg, a beekeeper and vice-president of the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission, also thought the technology would be useful.

“The more information the producer has, whether it’s for wild bees or imported ones, would be great,” he said.

Miller-Struttmann added the technology could help build relationships between farmers and conservation workers.

“There’s a lot of ways we can support native and local bee populations,” she said. “So, a little bit can go a long way in terms of things like planting hedgerows. If people could see the numbers in their own fields that would be really meaningful.”

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  • Denise

    Isn’t it funny (not) how they beat around the bush to study the bee crisis, when the evidence is already out there!!!
    Our bees and other insects are disappearing, at alarming rates, because of pesticide ( esp. insecticides like neonics) use.
    The beneficial little workers are sick, dying and unable to do their jobs properly. Using more bees to pollinate and moving them around from place to place is a denial of the real problem.
    IF the truth will be revealed, once their studies are done, and they confirm,once again, the catastrophe which is unfolding before our eyes, fine and good.
    Eventually farmers will realize they have no choice but to change their farming methods.
    “Insectageddan: farming is more catastrophic than climate breakdown.” -George Monbiot
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/oct/20/insectageddon-farming-catastrophe-climate-breakdown-insect-populations

    • Harold

      The study of the bees were in the most part unnecessary in the past but then chemicals came into existence more so than ever before and now the bees require study. I am certain that the “beat around the bush” is the need to modify the bee genetically to have it live in its newly found toxic chemical environment because limiting or banning a chemical causing harm would cause harm to a corporation; In essence they need to create a “bio hazard suit” for each bee. The university is a government and corporate handout recipient and is obligated to make sure that the corporation is not harmed in order to keep receiving the money whereas if the university were dependent solely upon the money coming directly from citizens, and not government, the tune would change and the University would protect us from corporate harm instead. Who owns the gold makes all of the rules but citizens are not the holders of our gold as we ought to be and we have disconnected ourselves and are a government funder instead giving them our gold. Someday we will learn to stop paying our money to an entity that consistently offers us nothing of equal value in return. The government has truly become only a satellite store for the department within the Elites own corporation. It is a travesty that we are paying for the satellite store in a freebee the corporate is not. If the corporate wishes to run our government then they should be paying for every aspect of our government right down to the very pencils, crayons, and coloring books that our politicians use and I say this because I do not know of any current statesman worthy of any other observation or consideration. The talks of the politicians are merely the crayons and coloring books of the corporations that they serve and no doubt with your past and current experience with your local politician and government you know of this all too well; nice crayon colored picture – no improvement.

      • Denise

        Yes, of course! It’s a research team at Webster University, St, Louis, Mo. developing the app to test the buzziness of bees to work in conjunction with acoustic listening sytems.
        St. Louis, Mo. is headquarters for Monsanto!!!
        Just think there could be a whole new industry created to make little “bio hazard suits’ for the bees! Hahaha!

        • Harold

          They have already created “bio hazard suits” for the plants (GMO/GE) so it stands to reason that the bees are next and then humans last. It is about as far as they can go before they are willing to fold up their tents and go home. After that I am sure that there is always the Moon or Mars ideal for the resetting of their tents.

  • Denise

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