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Coffee Time Challenge with Team PPi and Eureka!

By now we are probably all familiar with the plight of bees in this country and beyond. the UK population of 353 species of wild bees and hoverflies to drop by roughly 33% since the 1980s, according to research from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. Further research has shown that the number of managed honeybee colonies in the UK fell by 53% between 1985 and 2005.

This of course spells potential disaster for crops, which rely on an abundant bee population for pollination.

In response to this crisis there have obviously been strenuous efforts to create more bee-friendly environments, including wildflower meadows, while others have taken up beekeeping themselves in order to boost populations.

Key to the effort to understand bee population patterns, however, is monitoring bee behaviour patterns to understand better the factors that are affecting them. This is an established practice, as beekeepers already place small metal disks on queen bees to help identify them and to make it easier to pick them up with magnets.

However, for a more holistic approach, more than just the queen would have to be tracked and this, of course, presents a number of challenges. How do you develop a small enough device to allow the bee to fly unhindered and – perhaps more pressingly – how do you then get it onto the bee?

The Challenge

This, then is this issue’s challenge: to develop a bee tracking system that allows effective monitoring and can be easily put onto an insect that is at the very least reluctant to allow you to do so.

As ever, we have a solution in mind, but would love to see what you come up with.

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