The future of beekeeping
With honeybees responsible for pollinating 80% of our food, our future is dependent on their survival. But pesticides, modern farming practices and climate change are disrupting the natural environment that bees live in, putting their future, and ours, at risk.
It’s not all bad news – innovation in the beekeeping industry aims to help stabilise food sources for bees and change the way keepers manage their hives. These are important steps toward a more efficient, stable bee population.
Here’s a look at some of the most exciting bee-tech out there – and how it could change things for beekeepers.
ApisProtect: understanding what goes on in the hive
ApisProtect produces in-hive sensors that help beekeepers understand their hives on a new level. The sensor is placed under the roof of the hive and measures humidity, temperature, sounds and movement within the colony. The sensor sends the hive’s data to the ApisProtect head office in Ireland, where it is analysed and sent back to the beekeepers.
The technology helps beekeepers maintain their hives efficiently, with fewer inspections. This means they can manage more hives with the same staff numbers – bringing in more honey and increasing profits.
The company is currently working with 20 beekeepers in the USA, Ireland, the UK and South Africa, who look after around 20 million bees collectively. The data received from these companies is helping build a database of global bee health statistics and information.
Tech to protect
There’s no hope of sustainable farming without healthy bees. Pollenity, founded by Sergey Petrov in Bulgaria, has been working on tech to boost bee health since 2015. Their latest creation is the Beebot, a smart sensor device that is used in small beekeeper’s hives – with around 1000 beehives now using the tech.
The Beebot is similar to the AspiProtect product, tracking temperature, moisture levels and the frequency of the bees’ buzzing to spot problems inside the hive.
Pollenity is working on a couple of other exciting bee-tech concepts as well, including tech that can show whether bees have been poisoned by pesticides. Even more exciting, they’re working with a team to build a robot bee that can perform the ‘waggle dance’ outside the hive, directing other bees to valuable nectar sources and away from pesticide-laden plants. Although it’s not yet on the market, it could be a game-changer in the future.
Collaborative farming for healthy bees and healthy food
Currently, because beehives are not always evenly distributed, large pastures are left un-pollinated, and areas with bees are over-saturated. This means less honey and fewer crops being pollinated — a bad outcome for both beekeepers and farmers. BeeWeb is an online platform that connects beekeepers and food farmers to help solve this issue.
BeeWeb uses an algorithm that optimises the arrangement of beehives to benefit both parties. The main idea is to make it clear to beekeepers where the most nutrient-dense pastures are. This information allows them to set up hives nearby and deliver a sustainable food source for their bees while pollinating crops efficiently. BeeWeb claims that their technology can result in a 30% increase in honey yield.
The process is simple — beekeepers leave notes on the platform regarding the number of hives they need space for, and which crops they are interested in for their bees. Farmers input data on pasture location, crop and size. The algorithm matches beekeepers with farmers and planning gets underway. They negotiate a price, settle on the deal and proceed to share resources for equal benefit.
This technology enables a circular food economy where beekeepers and farmers work collaboratively to create high-quality products – better for the environment and better for the bees.
Keep the mites away with new pest-tech
Varroa mites are not found in Australia which is fortunate! In New Zealand, current Varroa mite treatments usually involve chemicals, but a company launched by Czech scientist Roman Linhart is providing another way. The Thermosolar Hive uses solar power to heat the internal space of the hive to 40° Celsius for 150 minutes, destroying any mites in the hive without harming the bees. Treatment is repeated 10 days later to catch any mites that were out of the hive during the first round.
The Thermosolar Hive doesn’t harm bees at all, it simply kills varroa mites. It’s a safe, natural way to get rid of a nasty pest and protect hives from long-term damage – and it can even be used as a preventative before signs of mites are seen. With Varroa mites wreaking havoc in bee colonies all over the world, it could make a major difference to bee health.
The future of bee-tech looks promising
Bee-tech has come a long way in the past five years. Hands-off monitoring, collaborative farming practices, natural pest-management and tiny bee-robots – it all points to a future that’s better for bees and beekeepers. And as technology evolves and our environment changes, innovative developers will no doubt come up with more ways to help these vital little creatures survive.
Want to know more about modern beekeeping practices?Talk to the team at Ecrotek now.