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Data from: Evaluating the foraging performance of individual honey bees in different environments with automated field RFID systems

Citation

Colin, Theotime et al. (2022), Data from: Evaluating the foraging performance of individual honey bees in different environments with automated field RFID systems, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.83bk3j9s6

Abstract

Measuring the individual foraging performances of pollinators is crucial to guide environmental policies that aim at enhancing pollinator health and pollination services. Automated systems have been developed to track the activity of individual honey bees, but their deployment is extremely challenging. This has limited the assessment of individual foraging performances in full-strength bee colonies in the field. Most studies available to date have been constrained to use downsized bee colonies located in urban and suburban areas. Environmental policy-making, on the other hand, needs a more comprehensive assessment of honey bee performances in a broader range of environments, including in remote agricultural and wild areas. Here we detail a new autonomous field method to record high quality data on the flight ontogeny and foraging performance of honey bees, using Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID). We separate bee traffic into returning and exiting tunnels to improve data quality, solving many previous limitations of RFID systems caused by traffic jams and the parasitic coupling of RFID antennae. With this method, we assembled a large RFID dataset made of control bee colonies from experiments conducted in different locations and seasons. We hope our results will be a starting point to understand how ontogenetic and environmental factors affect the individual performances of honey bees, and that our method will enable the large-scale replication of individual pollinator performance studies.

Funding

Australian Research Council, Award: 140100452

US Department of Agriculture, Award: 58-5342-3-004F

Hort Innovation, Award: LP15007

Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Award: Eldon & Anne Foot Trust