How Smart Tech is Saving Bee’s
Global honey bee populations are in decline, putting the world’s food supply under pressure. But new technologies could help beekeepers counter the threat.
You might think of beekeepers as mere honey producers, but they are part of a growing trade where they lease their hives to farmers who need bees to pollinate their crops.
The commercial bee industry provides pollination services worth tens of billions of dollars, and is key to the production of a huge range of crops, including almonds, broccoli and apples.
California, for example, produces 80% of the world’s almonds, and for that to happen, pollen needs to be transferred between trees. Each year, more than 2 million bee hives are required to do the job.
Now, technology startups are developing smart devices that give beekeepers access to detailed information about the state of their hives, aiming to reduce losses and improve bee health and provides a sensor that alerts beekeepers if there is a problem in their hives.
The small internet-connected sensor is placed under the roof of the beehive and measures a number of metrics including temperature, humidity, sound and movement. Data is collected, processed, analyzed and then sent back to the beekeeper.
The information collected from the 400 smart sensor units is creating a database of global bee health, powering the algorithms that analyze its data.
Pollentity is a project that aims to improve the welfare of bees by reinventing hives using a number of technologies, including a robot bee capable of “dancing” to direct the hive’s swarm.
The robot bee will tell the other bees where to go to find nectar and pollen. Not only will this direct them to certain fields for pollination but also navigate the bees away from dangerous areas, like where pesticides are being used.”
There are also plans to build technology to detect whether a bee has been poisoned by coming into contact with pesticides.
Securing the future of the honey bee is one of the world’s greatest challenges and right now we have technology working in our favour.