Remote Sensing of Honey Bees
From Living Building Science
During winter, bees sometimes starve to death due to insufficient supply of honey or from the phenological mismatches between when the bees emerge & the availability of floral resources. To counter this issue, urban beekeepers provide their bees with sugar substitutes, but these substitutes lack the necessary enzymes & nutrients found in their natural food supply. We explored possible solutions to maximize foraging behaviors & ultimately increase the natural food supply of urban honeybees, which can potentially increase pollination & the viability of surrounding biodiversity.
Due to limited time & resources, our experiment will begin in Spring 2022. Since we only have access to one incubator, we plan to set the incubation temperature at 32.5°C. We also plan on recording the age, duration of incubation, & movement in & out of the hive using the RFID system. To monitor the hive temperature, we will be using BroodMinder to log & store live hive temperature & humidity data via Bluetooth.
Remote Sensing of Honey Bees
Introduction to the System of Study
There are currently over 500 species of bees found in Georgia. One of the most abundant is the Apis mellifera, commonly known as the western or European honey bee (Schlueter, 2020). Like other Hymenopterans, their unfertilized eggs develop into males & their fertilized eggs develop into females. The female larvae that are fed pollen, nectar, & brood become workers. Worker bees are non-reproductive female bees that make up a majority of a hive. As their name suggests, workers specialize in a variety of tasks including, but not limited to, tending to the queen, nursing young, & foraging. Foragers specialize in traveling to floral sites & returning to the hive with nectar & pollen (Dargahi & Todd, 2020). An experiment conducted in 2016 found a correlation between incubation temperatures of brood and adult behaviors and specialization within the hive. They found that adult bees that were incubated at 35°C and 36°C performed better in terms of behavior, learning, and memory compared to those raised at 32°C. They also noted that foragers incubated at 32°C would begin foraging at 2 weeks, similar to those incubated at 35°C and 36°C. However, they noticed that more bees in the 32°C group would leave the hive at normal foraging times but would not return to the hive (Wang, Xu, Zhu, Chen, S. Zhou, Huang, & B. Zhou, 2016).
RFID tags are a type of tracking system that uses smart barcodes in order to identify items. RFID stands for “radio frequency identification,” and as such, RFID tags utilize radio frequency technology. These radio waves transmit data from the tag to a reader, which then transmits the information to an RFID computer program. RFID tags are frequently used for merchandise, but they can also be used to track vehicles, pets, etc.
Type of Bee
The type of bees that we worked with is called worker bees which are non-reproductive female bees that make up a majority of a hive. As their name suggests, workers specialize in a variety of tasks including, but not limited to, tending to the queen, nursing young, & foraging (Dargahi & Todd, 2020).
A small amount of store-bought super glue is applied to the RFID sensor and, while holding the bee lightly with a pair of forceps at the upper abdomen (holding down the wings), the RFID tag is placed between the wings at the top of the thorax. The bee is released after a few seconds. In some cases, bees are collected and held manually during the RFID fitting or several bees are brought to the laboratory where placing the bees in the freezer for a short amount of time can be used to decrease bee movement as the bees fall asleep. It will be ideal to tag bees as they hatch in their first day of life as an adult due to their inability to fly. Tagged bees were then placed in hive in Kendeda Building.
We tracked 442 temperature points over 19 days, taken from the mid-upper hive where winter clustering occurs. While widely variable, the average internal hive temperature was 25.7°C, which is highly unfavorable for successful incubation.
This indicates proceeding with incubating at elevated temperatures, even at a “low” 32.5°C, should be beneficial for the hives of Kendeda.
As this study expands to gather data on remaining incubation temperatures, we should see an increase of successful flight returns, while still taking into account typical climate events in Atlanta, Georgia & predation. This again would be accredited to better self-control of bees incubated at higher temperatures (3, 6).
This semester, we ran into a lot of technical difficulties regarding the Raspberry Pi and the HOBO Pro v2 Temperature/Humidity Data Logger.
- The Pi had some unknown issues that prevented it from booting.
- We have concluded it may be a SD card issue since it is not a power cable issue.
We also unfortunately collected bad data and had a few significant sources of error.
- Twelve bees were tagged after the first round of tagging at Kendeda.
- By the next week, only one was still active.
- The small sample size prevented us from concluding anything significant.
- To remedy this issue, our team regularly met with the beekeeping team to tag drones regularly. By the end of the semester, we were able to tag over 400 drones.
Looking forward to the future, the questions we want to focus on are:
- How many times does the drone leave the hive before it dies?
- If a drone survives a mating trip, how long do they stay in the hive before they are rejected?
Some of our goals for next semester include:
- Adding the camera and the hive scale to the hive, after slightly modifying the waterproof case to fit the Pi cable
- Sending our data over to the Machine Learning team so that they can integrate their mite model with the data collected from our camera and their swarm forecasting model with the data collected from the scale
- Setting up the temperature & humidity sensor from Dr. Cobb to record data on environmental temperature and humidity conditions
|Emma Carmical||Environmental Engineering|
|Isabelle D'Amico||Environmental Engineering|
|Silas Ever||Computer Science|
|Hannah Kim||Computer Science|