By translating vibrations from hives, IoT for bees can provide early alerts of issues
By tapping into vibrations in the hive, agri-tech start-up BeeSecure is able to listen into conversations ensuring that the bees are happy, healthy and performing well. Co-founder Roberto Pasi says the company can understand ten main topics, quickly identifying issues. The company was part of the Start-Up Showcase at Agri-TechE’s 2020 REAP conference.
BeeSecure is based in Italy and supports thousands of beehives across mainland Europe. It is part of the EIT Food Accelerator Programme and has just started working with beekeeper associations and farmers in the UK. Its new product BeeSecure is changing the way bee services are rented on farm.
By providing a ‘high-performance pollination service’ well-kept bees are able to significantly boost yields of insect pollinated crops. Hives can be rented by farmers as required but keepers are concerned about the pesticides that might be used and farmers have little knowledge of the health of the bees.
Co-founded by Roberto with CTO Gabriele Garavini, BeeSecure uses IoT devices such as sensors to monitor the temperature, humidity and sound, Roberto explains:
“We have a little microphone that is able to translate vibration within the bee hive; it can’t pick up the individual conversations, but just like sitting in Old Trafford watching Manchester United, if somebody scores a goal, you’re really going to hear it.
“At the moment we can understand the ten most important topics, from ‘the Queen is dead’ to ‘there are not enough flowers nearby’ and this is sufficient to determine a problem with the hive and understand the size of the colony.
“Additionally, bees maintain a constant temperature of 35˚C; if that suddenly changes that is a real alarm that something is wrong.”
Roberto Pasi inherited his passion for bees from his grandfather, who left him 20 hives a decade ago. “It started as a hobby, but then we got thinking ‘bees are so important so why is there no technology to support beekeepers? There has been a massive loss of bees in recent years and no one really knows the reason for this.”
Hive theft is an increasing problem for beekeepers so BeeSecure also contains a GPS tracker, which provides an alert if the hive is moved.
Data from the hives can be viewed in real-time by the farmer and keeper via a secure app
“So now we have the way to create a trusting relationship between farmer and beekeeper – we can guarantee the farmer that the rented bees are performing well – and at the same time we can guarantee the bee keeper that the bees will be returned in a healthy condition.”
Roberto is keen to talk to UK farmers about the rental of beehives and the BeeSecure system and to find partners with specialist knowledge of bumblebees, which are used for undercover pollination.