Local News

Ballarat Tech School abuzz with CSIRO partnership

bee on flower USDA Photo by Lance Cheung

The Ballarat Tech School is working with the CSIRO to investigate the behaviour of bees.

Today marks the introduction of the program with the CSIRO and backyard beekeepers across Ballarat.

Thousands of bees will be fitted with tracking devices that are described as "tiny little backpacks" to track bee activity.

The sensors are 2.5mm in size, and weigh roughly 5 milligrams each, with a newly designed sensor also on offer, as small as 1.5 millimetres. The smaller the sensor, the less interference it will have on the bee's behaviour.

A bee wearing the sensor
Image courtesy of the CSIRO.

It comes as bee populations are declining globally, which puts pressure on food security. 

The data collected will measure patterns around bees going in and out of their hives, how much time they spend away from the hive, what they are collecting, and how much honey the hive produces. 

It will also look at how weather impacts bee activity, with bees operating on a very predictable schedule.

The data that is being collected is part of a global project, and follows the program undertaken in Tasmania.

The CSIRO is also working with Brazil's Vale Institute of Technology to take the bee sensors to the Amazon.  

Students from partner schools will today hear from local backyard bee keepers who are passionate about the security of the bee population, and why the humble bee is integral to the ecosystem and Australia's agricultural industry. 

They will also look at honey data, what it means for food security locally and globally, and will have the added benefit of researchers monitoring biosecurity risks, including the Varroa mite.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Schools, Tim Richardson, will visit Ballarat Tech today to see the students, CSIRO scientists, and beekeepers working on bee tracking technology.

Hear more from Sofia Fiusco, the head of the Ballarat Tech School, about the project below:

Image by Lance Cheung.