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Approximately 100 research organizations and universities in 26 countries first plan to participate in the project. Subsequently, honey bee behavioral data will be collected from approximately 1,000 locations to investigate the causes of colony collapse disorder.
Honey bees are a key pollinator of food crops, but recently they have been disappearing in massive numbers worldwide, a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. This phenomenon is potentially a critical problem; crops that are not pollinated could trigger a food crisis. In August 2015, Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) sought to address this threat by launching the Global Initiative for Honeybee Health (GIHH), a collaboration of international research organizations, beekeepers, and farmers all working together to monitor honey bee behavior and investigate the causes of this phenomenon. Hitachi Chemical's ultra-small RFID tags are being used in the GIHH's honey bee movement monitoring system.
Developed in collaboration with Hitachi in 2011, an ultra-small RFID tag has an area of 2.5 mm square, a thickness of 0.4 mm, and comes equipped with an antenna. The tags are able to fit into ultra-small components and devices conventional RFID tags cannot, feature excellent durability, and can be used in harsh environments. The results of demonstration testing in 2014 were well received due in part to the tags' ability to collect data while not burdening the honey bees, which led to their adoption for the project.
The GIHH will attach RFID tags to honey bees and install RFID readers at the entrance of beehives. By recording and analyzing data, including the time honey bees leave and return to their beehive and the time they spend in their beehive, the GIHH will try to identify causal relationships with the surrounding environment, including temperature, humidity, and the amount of chemical substances present. Hitachi Chemical will continue to provide GIHH RFID-related technological support.