Beekeeping is going digital. Two smart technologies are making inroads in remote beehive management systems. Basically, technology is being used to “read” bee hives and use that data to optimize the health and productivity of bees.
Bees are arguably the most important creatures to humans on Earth. They pollinate over 80% of all flowering plants including 70 of the top 100 human food crops. One in three bites of food that we eat is derived from plants pollinated by bees.
In Tunisia, winter hive losses between 2016 and 2017 registered a loss of 44%. A Tunisian native, Khaled Bouchoucha, decided to do something with his digital engineer education and developed Smart Bee, an electronic device that measures hive humidity, temperature and other key indicators of bee health and transmits the data to the cloud. Vets employed by Smart Bee then advise beekeepers on how to maximize their honey production by keeping their hives in good condition. Smart Bee can keep an instant eye on bee health.
Bouchoucha says honey production, on average, increases by 40 percent and the number of hives by 25 percent. What’s more, the quality of the honey is better because they mitigate the need for medicine or sugar feeding, fetching higher prices and “directly impacting their profit.”
Bulgarians, Ivan Kanev and Sergey Petrov are co-founders of another bee technology called Bee Smart. Their goal is to move calendar-based decisions made by beekeepers to data-based solutions.
Bee Smart Technology customers are those that transport bee hives to rent out to farmers crop pollination services. It’s a big industry and agriculture is dependent on these roving bee handlers to help maximize the production of their crops.
Bee Smart has developed a small box of sensors that attaches to the frames in a hive. The system monitors a number of metrics including temperature, humidity, the colony’s levels of activity, whether the queen is mating, and even the sound of the bees. They claim their sensors can also predict when a swarm is imminent.
The box is battery operated and needs charging every three months. Data is sent via the cloud data centres to Bee Smart, where it is processed, analysed and results sent to the beekeeper.
Mr Kanev notes “when you’re transporting your beehive, as a beekeeper you might think of those as your assets – being able to remotely monitor their state is becoming very important.”
There’s huge problems facing beekeepers world wide but it sounds like help in the form of digital data is on the way.