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David Sparks Ph.d Flight of the bumble bee
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: June 27, 2018

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A research team out of the University of Missouri is using microphones to record and analyze the buzz of bees in hopes of learning more about them in an effort to save them. First, the team analyzed the characteristic frequencies—what musicians call the pitch—of bee buzzes in the lab. Then, they placed small microphones attached to data storage devices in the field and collected the acoustic survey data from three locations on Pennsylvania Mountain, Colorado, to estimate bumble bee activity.

Using the data, they developed algorithms that identified and quantified the number of bee buzzes in each location and compared that data to visual surveys the team made in the field. In almost every instance, the acoustic surveys were more sensitive, picking up more buzzing bees.

“Eavesdropping on the acoustic signatures of bee flights tells the story of bee activity and pollination services,” Galen said. “Farmers may be able to use the exact methods to monitor pollination of their orchards and vegetable crops and head off pollination deficits.

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