'Backpacks' for bees being developed at Bangor

Credit: Frank Rumpenhorst/DPA/PA Images

Lightweight bee “backpacks,” powered by the insects’ own electrical energy, are being developed at Bangor university so scientists can track and study them.

An ecologist and a microsystems engineer are working together to develop micro-backpacks for bees that will enable the bees to be followed by small drones as they fly from plant to plant.

It is hoped scientists will learn more about where the bees collect nectar and what might be affecting their numbers.

Existing bee monitoring devices face limits due to their weight, range, and how long their power source lasts- and these are the problems that we’ve set out to resolve using cutting-edge micro-technology.

We have proven our ability to harvest the bee’s electrical energy to enable us to do away with the need for a battery and our end product will weigh only a third of the bee’s body weight, or less than a raindrop. This solves the weight and battery longevity problems.

Our next step is to develop a mobile receiver to track and follow the bee’s transmitted signal as it forages.

– Dr Cristiano Palego, Bangor University