back to article Boffins tail bees with tiny radio tags

Bees with radio tags glued onto their backs have been busily demonstrating just how long it takes them to get home, and how much easier it is to travel west. The tags are 13.75MHz RFID tags – very small ones – and were glued to individual bees by researchers Mario Pahl and ShaoWu Zhang. Once properly tagged, the bees were …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    13.75MHz RFID tags?

    You mean the frequency oyster cards use? Does this mean bees are going to have to check in now too?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      but they could get Nectar points.

  2. Jamie Kitson

    Bee the first to post a comment!


  3. Jamie Kitson



    1. Anonymous Coward


      As the article proves.

      Won't be long before all bees and flies are being tracked. Poor blighters - clearly being used to check how useful the tech will be when it's rolled out to humans (hopefully not proportional in size).

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Missed opportunity

    What, no mounted lasers as well - i want my money back :D

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    Wake me up when they have developed remote control Bee's for surveillance purposes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      couldn't find anything on bees, but other animals...

    2. David Pollard

      Not quite remote control surveillance ...

      ... but bees have been employed successfully to detect land mines and unexploded ordnance.

  6. lglethal Silver badge

    Gluing mini-RFID's on the back of bees...

    ... that's a job for the intern, surely?

    "Right what we want you to do is pick out the bees one by one and glue these mini tags on. Now naturally you cant use gloves for that as they're too small, so well... you'll get the hang of it. We'll be back in a few days to check how your going..."

  7. Yet Another Commentard


    That bee also has her pollen baskets full (look on the back legs, the blue balls are pollen) so she has the RFID and a pollen load to carry.

    It's interesting, as bees seem to pick up landmarks as they return, not on the outward journey. Moving a hive within about three miles of its old position tends to mean bees returning to the old site - they pick up old clues and head to the old home. Typically they fly in about a two mile radius, hence the three mile rule should remove a lot of overlap. if they are looking at the distant horizon for visual clues we may be losing more than we thought back to the old site.

    1. rcdicky

      They can only carry so much...

      Surely the max they can carry is the max they can carry? Meaning they're going to pick up less pollen not carry on making sure they get their usual 'quota'

      1. Yet Another Commentard


        Some are better than others, and I would guess that one had been caught after she'd collected that pollen. If you sit and watch them come back some barely have any, others look as if they've been dropped in Barbara Cartland's mascara, and some have baskets of pollen almost as big as themselves.

        I'm not having a go about animal cruelty or anything (foraging bees are at the end of their lives anyway, not that such a thing makes any difference) it was more an observation that the bees are not just carrying an RFID.

  8. lawndart

    Does anyone know

    Does anyone know where Sarah has got to, exactly?

    1. Ian Yates

      Go West

      She was clearly dropped west of El Reg Towers.

      Any mountains she can use nearby to navigate?

  9. ravenviz Silver badge

    I'm unclear

    What do they do when it's foggy?

    1. Yet Another Commentard


      I think (I am not a bee researcher, but I do keep them and have read a lot of books. Most of which contradict each other) they use more visual clues than just far off mountains, including the sun.They do have polarised light sensitivity, so they can see where the sun is through dense cloud, so I would guess that landmarks are part of an arsenal of navigational aids.

      Mine are also really fickle about going out. Too cold, too damp, too windy, too rainy and they stay indoors. Perhaps fog is just another one on the list of types of weather to avoid.

    2. CaptainHook

      Bee Flight

      I've just completed a bee keeping course, who knew it would actually bee useful (see what I did there?)

      Optimal flight temperate is low to mid 20s C, and they don't tend to fly at all at temperatures much below 10 C, fog forms in air cooler than that so I guess the bees aren't out in those conditions anyway.

  10. Slipgate


    If stray mobile phone signals upset bees (apparently kill them as well), what's it going to do to them having that strapped to their back when they go in/out of their hive?

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps the missing bees

    Buzzed off?

    News like this is the bee's knees.

    We should go over the results with a fine toothed honeycomb.

    Anonymous to avoid the swarm of incoming flames.

    Also, is that a black bee with yellow stripes or a yellow bee with black stripes?

  12. C 18

    It's nectar they're after

    They pick up the pollen by accident.

    Nectar is what they use to make their living from...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bees deliberately collect pollen

      No, they deliberately collect pollen as its their sole protein source and used indirectly to feed the larvae and the queen. The nectar is almost pure carbohydrate.

      1. C 18

        Tips hat

        I stand corrected

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Bee reasonable

    It's a blue bee with yellow and black stripes. :P

  14. Mike Banahan


    Be careful about believing everything they tell you on the course.

    Get a hive full of Fen Bastards (the affectionate name for the local wild black beasts we have out in six-toe territory) and they'll fly at ridiculously low temperatures. A bright frosty day has mine out and not just for a poo, they came back with snowdrop pollen on their legs whilst the snow isn't even melting on the ground.

    Admittedly, I've never seen them trying it in fog. Maybe it's time for a pissing contest "My bees will fly at lower temperatures than yours" etc. :)

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Pedantic Alert!

    Actually, it doesn't matter how long a beeline is, but whether it is really straight or not!

  16. TeeCee Gold badge

    "....which is nice to report."

    Shame really. This is one story that really needed a sting in the tail.....

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