What’s all the buzz about? Bees and smart map technology
What’s all the buzz about? – Bees and smart map technology
You’ve heard about the problems with the bees, right? Their population numbers are dwindling and that’s not good news. Bees are our earth’s primary pollinators which means most every thing that grows – from trees to flowers to the vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds we eat – depends upon them.
The declining numbers of bees are largely attributed to climate change and the elimination of areas that once supported wild bee habitats. But do you know how big the problem actually is?
Mapping the population
Recently, the University of Vermont decided to take a scientific approach to define the scale of the problem. In a nutshell, they used data to make maps and then used those smart maps to make even smarter maps. First, they used current satellite data to divide the country into usage areas like grassland, farmland and urban environments. Then, they enlisted bee experts to take a look at the first map and provide input regarding which of those spots best supported bee habitats. All of this data was analyzed and resulted in a smart map that shows where crucial cropland lies and where wild bee populations are in relation to those lands.
The news is not good. The study concluded that 39% of the cropland areas that need bees to grow the food we eat also happen to be in areas where conditions are unfavorable to wild bees.
Not just a domestic problem
This isn’t just a U.S. problem. The Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) also wanted to learn more about the scale of the problem, but they took a more intimate approach. The group actually outfitted 10,000 individual bees with tiny RFID chips. Seriously. They literally used tweezers and superglue to attach the RFID chips to the bees.
The chips relay information to digital data loggers so that intelligent systems can create geo-spatial models of bee behavior. That data can then be combined with what researchers already know about environmental factor like weather, urbanization, and pollution, creating a visualization of the bee issue. This big technology on a tiny scale is poised to help the entire world learn more about the cause of declining bee populations and just what can be done to mitigate the damage.
Grassroots bee keepers
With wild bees declining, the domestic bee industry is seeing a boost. Yes, there is a booming domestic bee industry. You too can become a beekeeper. And just because you’re starting with a small hive in your backyard, doesn’t mean you have to go low tech. Software applications like Beetight allow you to record harvests and feedings as well as show your hive locations on a map in comparison with other, nearby hives and relevant data.
So if you’re looking for a new hobby – why not bees? Download some software, grab an app and watch the journey of you new winged friends unfold on your smart map, all while helping the world’s tiny winged friends.
Written By: Gina Haraway
Gina Haraway is Avnet Embedded's Director of Supplier Business Development, Microsoft Global. With over 20 years of experience in the technology industry and 6 years at Avnet, Gina has held several positions and has extensive knowledge and experience in inside & field sales, account development and supplier business development. She is a regular contributor to http://www.IntelligentSystem.com.
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