The Internet of Bees: Connected Beehives Creating a Buzz for 2019

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By Harriet Sumnall | 1Q 2019 | IN-5396

From 1947 to 2008, there was a 60% global decrease of honey bees. Experts believe that humanity would starve without bees, as the cross-pollination of plants that they carry out contributes to 30% of the global food source. Bees create revenues through their beeswax and honey production, too. and, with the rates that the human population is expected to grow according to the United Nations’ (UN) forecasts, to lose this 30% would cause significant harm to the agricultural market.

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Life Preservation--Humans Need Bees

NEWS


From 1947 to 2008, there was a 60% global decrease of honey bees. Experts believe that humanity would starve without bees, as the cross-pollination of plants that they carry out contributes to 30% of the global food source. Bees create revenues through their beeswax and honey production, too. and, with the rates that the human population is expected to grow according to the United Nations’ (UN) forecasts, to lose this 30% would cause significant harm to the agricultural market.

The increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT) to connect beehives is causing a revolution in the world of beekeeping. The technology allows beekeepers to track the humidity, weight, and temperature of a beehive. This gives the beekeeper vital insights into their bee populations’ health, honey production, and environments. The technology allows beekeepers to make early interventions in order to sustain their beehives, optimize their environments, and ensure healthy bee populations, which is important to modern industrial agriculture. It also allows for a minimal level of manual interaction, which is more beneficial for the bees’ wellbeing.

The Increasing Use of the Connected Beehive

IMPACT


The World Bee Project and Oracle are collaborating to protect the world’s bee population. Their technology has been designed to provide new insights to experts about how bees interact with their environments. The World Bee Project plans to ensure that the data collected can be stored and publicly retrieved from the cloud, so that it can maximize the project’s impact and enable greater activity to prevent bee populations from dying out. Since October 2018, Oracle has had two connected hives behind its headquarters based in Reading in the United Kingdom. In total, each hive has between five and six sensors, enabling the project team to listen to the bees and collect data on the temperature and humidity inside the beehives.

Bee Label is another company that offers a variety of solutions that monitor beehives for both leisurely beekeepers and larger businesses; it also offers the option to sponsor bees in their hives. Bee Label’s concept is to be able to minimize the interaction that happens within the hives so that the bees can be in as normal of an environment as possible. The company has partnered with Sigfox, a global LPWA provider, to connect the IoT sensors in the beehives to the cloud. Bee Label currently works with 25 beekeepers and has helped connect 86 hives.

Deutsche Telekom is yet another vendor who has developed connected beehives. Collaborating with BeeAnd.me, Deutsche Telekom has built a solution specifically for the use of NB-IoT, which allows for energy-efficient data transmission without an external energy supply. This allows for all data to be accessed remotely, leaving the busy bees be. The company has had two connected hives in place since June 2018, but plans on launching its solution into the market early this year.

Save the Bees to Secure Our Future

RECOMMENDATIONS


Beekeeping is a niche market compared to others available for the employment of IoT. It could, however, grow to allow for further levels of connection and automation in terms of significance. Using sensors and connections within this market alone is helping to preserve the bees; going one step further, introducing automated actions from these sensors will allow for efficient beekeeping. Applying IoT technology to an issue such as the population is an example of how IoT can be used to solve ecological problems.

Though the market remains niche, the connected beehive is still immature; it was reported by the University of Reading that the connected beehive was created due to the joint efforts of Oracle and The World Bee Project, which was the first of the hives to be up and running. There are several variations available despite the young age of this solution. An example of an application that has been successfully deployed is Bayer Bee Care’s smart hives, which have been deployed to over ten locations in North America to date, including New York and Ontario.

Companies such as Bee Label, Hiber, and Hive Mind are pushing for the adoption of their solutions and those similar because of the market space available and the increase of global food pressures in conjunction with the projected increase of the population. Due to the market being considerably small at the moment, there are not only opportunities for new solutions to enter the market, but for companies support these new start-up vendors, too.

The number of deployments of solutions that are using IoT technology is increasing in the agricultural market. There are much l larger sectors of the market that are being covered with this technology already, such as livestock sensors to monitor livestock mobility, soil moisture sensors, and large agricultural machinery. Though the use of connected beehives is relatively small today, it has the potential to grow to a much larger scale.

The end goal for these projects is more efficient beekeeping. Bee Label does have figures available to date that show where it stands in the market and indicate that there is still a lot of room for improvement. Its partnership with Sigfox is strong and working successfully. It is proving to be important for solution providers to ensure they are partnered with good connection vendors so that their data is transmitted smoothly, which contributes to the end results of a successful solution.

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