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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research » Research » Research Project #442876

Research Project: Development and Production of SmartBombus Units

Location: Pollinating Insect-Biology, Management, Systematics Research

Project Number: 2080-21000-019-059-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Oct 1, 2022
End Date: Oct 31, 2024

There is a critical need to develop remote data capture technology to effectively employ agriculturally significant managed and non-managed wild bee species to deliver pollination services, and to coordinate applications of pesticides at times to protect these essential pollinators. To fill this gap, the Cooperator and ARS will co-develop a versatile data collection system for remotely monitoring bee activity and colony/nest health for bumble bees. This product enables growers and researchers to continuously monitor bee arrivals and departures from the colony or nest (i.e., “traffic”) and other metrics such as temperature and humidity throughout a growing season without disturbing the bees. Furthermore, it greatly reduces the human resources required to manually monitor individual colonies and nests. Ultimately, the resultant data of this product will positively impact agriculture as it provides continuous monitoring information to inform pollinator health and pollination services in real time.

To achieve the project goals, the Cooperator will develop a data logger that collects and stores data from various sensors (e.g., bee activity, temperature, humidity, weight). The primary sensor acts as a “traffic gate” that monitors traffic in/out of the colony/nest. Each gate consists of two infrared break beam sensors spaced along a tunnel to record directionality and frequency of bees entering and exiting. Traffic gates can be bundled into units to accommodate different managed bee species. Double gates are used for bumblebee colonies (e.g, Bombus impatiens [Common eastern bumble bee], Bombus huntii [Hunt bumble bee], and Bombus vosnesenskii [Vosnesensky bumble bee]). In addition to the data logger and data collection system, the Cooperator developed a Cuckoo bumble bee excluder. The Cooperator will develop the software and hardware. Utility of the bumble bee colony data collection system will be tested by the Cooperator and the USDA.