Can digitization ensure the survival of bees? Thanks to BeeAnd.me’s hardware and software, keeping the precious pollinators healthy has never been easier.
Humans have been keeping bees for millennia – there’s even archeological evidence that points to apiculture being practiced in ancient Egypt and prehistoric Greece. Beekeeping was mainly done in order to collect honey and beeswax.
But the importance of bees goes far beyond providing us with delicious honey. Eighty per cent of all pollination in the world is done by honey bees, including wild and domestic colonies. Bees unintentionally pollinate plants while performing their duties for the hive; pollen gets stuck to their hair while they retrieve nectar or pollen from a flower. When they get to a flower with female reproductive organs, some of that pollen will be rubbed onto it. This fertilizes the plant and allows it to reproduce.
In other words, if bees are endangered, so are all the plants that depend on them to reproduce. And unfortunately, pesticides and habitat loss are threatening the small pollinators. Reports from around the world point to a decrease in honey bee populations and scientists are ringing the alarm to help preserve the species and, ultimately, the crops that feed us.
Nursing Bees With an App
Two scientists from Montenegro decided to use their skills to create a modern tool for beekeepers. Elma Hot is pursuing a master in computer science, while Alija Dervic is a PhD student in electronics.
Their smart beekeeping system, BeeAnd.me, has a software and a hardware component. In terms of hardware, the startup produces a measuring station that contains a microprocessor, to be placed under the beehive. This microprocessor collects data on the state of the colony.
The software component of BeeAnd.me is an app that transmits data from the station to the beekeeper, similarly to a baby monitor that lets parents hear whether their baby is crying. The app displays information such as temperature, weight and humidity in real time. This allows the beekeeper to easily monitor the state of his bees and make adjustments if necessary.
Furthermore, the system uses data mining to observe trends and warn about possible problems in advance. This is important to help avoid incidents like a crash in the population.
The BeeAnd.me team is currently actively promoting their concept in the startup scene and looking for financial support to take their idea to the market. Beekeeping can be a rewarding income generative activity, and if BeeAnd.me’s system can facilitate it, it could help people in developing countries confidently start their own apiculture business.
Save the Bees
The decline of the honeybee has led to countless initiatives around the world to try to save them. In Germany, Stadtbienen e.V. (‘city bees’ in German) aims to promote the culture of bees in urban settings by selling bee boxes for citizens, companies and schools, in addition to organizing beekeeping classes.
If you aren’t ready to dive into apiculture, there are many other ways to help save bees. You can buy a pack of wildflower seeds and plant them to help provide food and shelter to the pollinators, or you can sign Greenpeace Europe’s petition demanding for a ban on bee-killing pesticides.