Can RFID Track Bees?

Published: November 19, 2011

Can RFID Track Bees?

I am seeking a transponder that can be attached to the body of a bee. I need to be able to read the transponder from a distance of approximately 2 meters (6.6 feet). Any ideas for how this might be accomplished?

—Name withheld


Unfortunately, I’m afraid this is impossible. The read range of an RFID transponder depends on many factors, one of the most important of which is antenna size. To reduce a transponder to a size that could fit on a bee, you would also need to reduce the size of the antenna, which would greatly reduce read range—probably to no more than a few inches. Researchers have used RFID to track bees (see RFID Helps Scientists Study Honeybees’ Homing Behavior), but the transponders were read from only a short distance away, at the hive’s entrance.

Here are some other stories you might find interesting:

Removing the Sting From Beekeeping

Honeybees Are in Trouble—and RFID Can Help

How Can I Track Insects Via RFID?

—Mark Roberti, Founder and Editor, RFID Journal