Together with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization of Australia (CSIRO) and Embrapa, the Vale Institute of Technology (ITV) has been monitoring since August 2015 Amazon-native stingless bee species to discover the influence of climate change to the premature death of these insects. Known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), this phenomenon has been intriguing scientists, because it also affects bee populations outside of Brazil. The project is developed in 12 Embrapa research units in Belém. Currently, 5,000 bees are monitored by a micro-sensor installed on their chest.
The information obtained by the sensors is connected to climate data of a mini-meteorological station installed in the hive. With the data collected from the field, the researchers build a 3D model of the insects’ movements. That enables them to see if the animals are acting normally or if, for some reason, they are disoriented and not returning to the hives. Currently, three Amazong stingless bee species are being studied: Melipona fasciculata, Melipona flavolineata and Melipona melanoventer.
The research in the Amazon is part of a larger research, initiated by Australian agency CSIRO in Tasmania in September 2013. There, their focus is on assessing the impact of using pesticides against hives. The project team noticed that the mortality rates reached a critical point, over 20%, when insects were subjected to insecticide doses that were not deemed enough to kill.