Researchers of the University of Washington has invented a sensor that can mount on bees back. It is too small and lightweight that a bumblebee can carry this without getting a trouble. They can eat, fly and control their tasks  Let us know why we need this and what are its applications.

The main purpose of creating this sensor is for agriculture.  Farmers use drones to look over large fields and observe temperature, humidity, pressure, crop health etc But we know these machines need so much power to fly that they must be charged after a short ride.

So, Researchers at University of Washington created a sensing system that is small enough to drive on bumblebee. The sensing system requires only a small rechargeable battery that can last for approximately seven hours of flight. We can also charge the batteries while the bees are in their hive at night. Unlike drones that utilize the power in flying,  bees can fly without any external power so we create this sensing system said by the team researchers.

Using an insect for this purpose has itself many complications. First one is insect can’t carry heavy weights so we have to think and work a lot about its size. Second is GPS receivers, which handle drones to report their positions, consume too much power for this application. To develop a sensor package system that could fit on an insect and sense its location, the team have dealt with both the issues.

We don’t have control over the bees ride so how it works….?

Because bees don’t tell us that where they are flying and because GPS receivers take too much power to ride on insect, the team works accordingly so that no power use to search or localize the bees. The researchers set up multiple antennas that broadcasted signals from a base station across a specific area. A receiver which fits on a bee’s backpack uses the power of the signal and for the bee’position, we evaluate the angle difference between the bee and the base station. We can be able to detect the bee’s position as long as it is within 80 meters of the range.

How we collect data?

When they return to their hive at night, where the backpack can upload any data is collected by a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting radio waves transmitted from a nearby antenna. This backpacks can store only 30kb of data. Only when bee come to hive it can upload data through an antenna.

How much this system weigh?

Backpack weighs 102 milligrams where rechargeable battery weighs 70 milligrams so we have a leftover 30 grams for anything like different kind of sensors camera etc.


  • We can collect data about temperature, humidity, light intensity via different series of sensors.
  • With a camera, we can collect the field condition pictures.
  • Can also do a  job in some beautiful data about wildlife

 Man-made Drones work for only 10-20 minutes after that it needs a power supply. This sensing system with bees is going to be drawn to specific things, like the plants it prefers to pollinate

Source Credit: Paul G. Allen School