How sensible tech may assist save the world’s honey bees

How technology is helping honey bees

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You would possibly consider beekeepers as mere honey producers, however they’re a part of a rising commerce the place they lease their hives to farmers who want bees to pollinate their crops.

The industrial bee business offers pollination providers price tens of billions of {dollars}, and is essential to the manufacturing of an enormous vary of crops, together with almonds, broccoli and apples. California, for instance, produces 80% of the world’s almonds, and for that to occur, pollen must be transferred between bushes. Annually, greater than 2 million bee hives are required to do the job.

Local weather change, intensive agriculture, and the usage of pesticides and fungicides in farming is ravaging the world’s bees. Industrial beekeepers in america misplaced 44% of their managed colonies in 2019, in keeping with analysis from the College of Maryland.

Now, expertise startups are creating sensible gadgets that give beekeepers entry to detailed details about the state of their hives, aiming to cut back losses and enhance bee well being.

Amongst them is Eire’s ApisProtect, which has simply launched a sensor that alerts beekeepers if there’s a drawback of their hives.

The small internet-connected sensor is positioned below the roof of the beehive and measures a lot of metrics together with temperature, humidity, sound and motion. Knowledge from the sensor is distributed by way of the cloud to ApisProtect’s HQ in Cork, Eire, the place the info is processed, analyzed after which despatched again to the beekeeper.

“Utilizing our gadget, beekeepers are going to have the ability to preserve many, many extra hives for a similar quantity of staff, and the identical quantity of spend on issues like feed and coverings,” says the corporate’s founder and CEO, Fiona Edwards Murphy. “They are going to have the ability to dramatically improve the quantity of pollination and honey output that they have of their operation.”

Beekeeper Simon Lynch uses a smart sensor device made by ApisProtect in his hives.

Since receiving $1.eight million in funding from worldwide buyers in 2018, the corporate has been working with 20 beekeepers throughout america, Eire, the UK and South Africa to watch the exercise of as much as 20 million honey bees.

The knowledge collected from the 400 sensible sensor items is making a database of world bee well being, powering the algorithms that analyze its knowledge.

Bee tech

With bees in demand for a booming pollination business, there are a selection of different startups selling new applied sciences, together with Pollenity in Bulgaria, Arnia in the UK and BeeHero in Israel.

Pollenity was based in 2015 by Sergey Petrov and has raised $1.2 million in funding. Its Beebot sensible sensor gadget is geared toward small and hobbyist beekeepers, and additionally it is working with six universities from throughout Europe on an EU-funded analysis venture known as HIVEOPOLIS.

The venture goals to enhance the welfare of bees by reinventing hives utilizing a lot of applied sciences, together with a robotic bee able to “dancing” to direct the hive’s swarm.

“The robotic bee will inform the opposite bees the place to go to seek out nectar and pollen,” Petrov says. “Not solely will this direct them to sure fields for pollination but in addition navigate the bees away from harmful areas, like the place pesticides are getting used.”

Petrov says there are additionally plans to construct expertise to detect whether or not a bee has been poisoned by coming into contact with pesticides.

For him, securing the way forward for the honey bee is without doubt one of the world’s biggest challenges. “If we do not harvest the expertise to work in our favor, we would as properly simply surrender,” he says, “and I am not giving up.”

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