Scientist seeks to explain mass bee disappearances

Taipei--Associate Professor Tsai Zuo-min (???) from the Department of Electrical Engineering at National Chung Cheng University on Wednesday attached highly sensitive harmonic radar tracking chips to bees in an effort to track them and investigate the reason for their disappearance.

The number of bees around the world has been in decline for some time now causing concern, said Tsai.

The professor said the tracking chips, can be glued to bees approximately as small as 1.5 centimeters in length, track where they fly and pinpoint their location, thus helping to determine the reason for the disappearances.

The tracking chips are 0.4 cm by 0.5 cm and do not affect the flight of the bees, he said.

A radar system sends out a signal at 9.4 gigahertz to the chip attached to the bee, which responds with a signal at a wavelength of 18.8 Ghz, enabling the system to calculate the location of bees of up to 1 kilometer away, said Tsai.

This year, Tsai's team confirmed that pesticides affect the flight path of bees by conducting experiments with the tracking system on the university campus.

"The chip invented by the team uses flexible circuits that have an antenna designed to be as thin as cicada wings, the bees are able to move in and out of the hive with the chip attached to their bodies allowing observation of their natural habitat. In the future through experiments with changing weather conditions we hope to find the reason for the mass disappearances of bees." Tsai said.

The harmonic radar tracking chip and system took four years to develop and started when Tsai was a researcher and member of a collaborative team established by the Department of Electrical Engineering and the Department of Entomology at National Taiwan University.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel