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As bee mortality rates reach up to 50%, the world’s food supply is under threat as never before. To help these tiny but massively important creatures populate and pollinate better, beekeepers needed to become tech savvy. By connecting existing off-the-shelf LoRaWAN devices using Hiberband Via, bee hives everywhere and anywhere can be monitored online on an app.
They say money makes the world go round. Well, it really should be honey that makes the world go round. And specifically bees. These tiny insects, that scientists say shouldn’t be able to fly (see nature always finds a way), are vital to mankind’s very existence. 30% of our food crop production is pollinated by honey bees. Not to mention all the non-commercial plants, trees, flowers and the associated wildlife that depend on successful pollination for their ecosystems to survive.
Yet these tiny vital creatures are not being given the love they deserve. Pesticides, climate change, monoculture in agriculture, creation of hybrid plants, are all having a massive impact on the bee population. But surely there are billions, trillions of bees around? Far from it. The global bee population is at a tipping point from which they, and mankind, may not be able to recover. If that sounds scary, it is.
The key indicators are already out there. Normally, bees have a mortality rate of 10%. However, beekeepers are now seeing 40-50% of their hives die. Imagine if that was cattle, milk production, wheat or any other resource disappearing at that rate. It would be a global crisis.
In Europe, 85% of all beekeepers are amateur or private individuals. The reason why such a high proportion of this vital resource is in non-commercial hands is simple. There is no money in honey, despite its global importance. As a result of the globally declining honey bee population, the hardcore dedicated professional beekeepers started to rent out their hives to farmers to help with pollination. Literally taking the bees to where they are needed most. Which is risky, changing the location of a hive means the bees have to quickly adapt to a new local micro-climate. And if the bees aren’t happy they leave or die. So it is essential beekeepers make bees feel welcome and comfortable in their new location and check on the hives’ needs daily.
The maintaining of a stable climate and ‘working’ environment for bees is probably the key factor in whether a beehive lives or dies. But a beekeeper can’t ask the question, ‘how y'all doin today?’ Even opening the lid to have a look inside can have a catastrophic effect on the delicate internal micro-climate. In winter, opening the lid can literally kill all the bees.
To know if a hive and all the bees are healthy is to measure the internal temperature and humidity. These key indicators tell a beekeeper more than you can imagine. Is there a queen? Is there enough food? Is there fungi in the hive? Yet measuring this is really difficult to do carefully and unobtrusively.
Devices that monitor hives have to be small. Several companies make tiny LoRaWAN sensors which fit snugly into the hive. These ‘petite’ devices collect big data including temperature and humidity, and record the exact location. What’s more, data collected using a traditional 3G network often meant that big areas had no coverage at all. Not surprising as most beehives are in rural areas.
Hiberhive is perfect for monitoring multiple beehives in remote locations, where there is no connectivity. It was developed to gather data from multiple LoRaWAN devices. Allowing data messages to be sent from both indoor and outdoor locations in a range of up to 10km. Data from all the hives is sent via (hence the name) a central gateway which bundles all the info together in a single transmission or transmissions. This is pinged to the satellite, onto the cloud and straight to the beekeeper’s mobile phone app or website.
The sensors algorithm gives beekeepers everywhere total visibility of current and future conditions. Combining data from hives all over Europe with other information like weather forecasts is vital to ensure the future of bees. Giving beekeepers an overview of the status of every hive and highlighting any that need attention. Saving a lot of travel time as there is no need to visit every hive, only those that look in trouble. What’s more, professional and amateur beekeepers can share their data and ask for advice from each other on the app. This shared data and knowledge resulting in a further reduction of bee mortality. Which is good news for the bees, pollination and our crops.
Hiber also want to help beekeepers in other remote areas such as Africa and the Australian Outback. This was previously impossible or expensive due to connectivity costs. With Hiberhive this is no longer the case. Meaning Hiber will not only be helping more beekeepers but also create access to even more data to further improve algorithms and the future global survival of all bees. A real win win.
To borrow a famous line from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, it appears that the answer to the age old question of ‘to bee or not to bee’, is definitely to ‘bee’ with Hiberhive.
The Hiberhive is a all-in-one solution to monitor the health of your hives without the need to open the hive or even travel to the location. Bring down the mortality rate of your bees instantly. Connect your beehives anywhere in the world without the need for cellular or wifi connectivity. Start today.
Hiber is a Dutch-based company with headquarters in Amsterdam and research facility in Delft. It also operates out of Maryland. In late October 2018 it successfully launched its first two nano satellites from California and India. It was also voted the Amazon Web Services Commercial Start-Up Launch of the Year, 2018. (Previous winners include Pinterest and AirBnB.) Current applications include monitoring crops in Africa, groundwater in Australia, fishing vessels across the Pacific, carbon-free vehicles in Antarctica, rail cars in America, cattle in South America, beehives in Europe, and even Dutch flowers.
Find out more at www.hiber.global.