Low-cost smart hive development

in News · 20-12-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC) start testing in January low-cost intelligent hives, installed in the Douro region, as part of a European project to improve the management of apiaries.

A team of scientists will initiate “a low-cost intelligent beehive test suite” to provide beekeepers with “real-time remote monitoring tools, both in terms of colony health assessment and the bee-keeping potential of resource-level areas for bees, for better management of their apiaries,” says UC, in a note sent to the Lusa news agency.
Named B-GOOD, “Giving Beekeeping Guidance by Computational Assisted Decision Making” (developing decision-making systems for sustainable beekeeping - new computer-assisted tools), the project brings together “nearly 70 scientists from 17 institutions from 13 European countries, as well as beekeepers and computer technology specialists”.
The project has global funding of more than €7 million from the European Union (EU) through Horizon 2020.
These smart hives, which will be tested simultaneously in seven other countries involved in the research, are equipped with “sensors that continuously collect and monitor various parameters” such as humidity, temperature, bee vibration and beehive weight, said the UC.
The system allows for the monitoring of “the state of the colony according to the so-called Health Status Index (HSI)” developed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

With this data, combined with other tools, it will be possible to “test, standardise and validate the methods for measuring and reporting the selected indicators that affect bee health,” says José Paulo Sousa, project vice-coordinator and Faculty of Sciences and UC Technology (FCTUC).
A simple computer application will allow beekeepers to “get fast and reliable real-time information on the status of each of their colonies and can detect swarming phenomena and symptoms of various diseases in advance, avoiding constant monitoring of apiaries,” adds José Paulo Sousa.
In a second phase, scientists will also develop a phenological model of food resources for bees, that is to “map the flowers that are important to the bees from a nutritional point of view, flowering periods throughout the year and the amount of resources they can provide.”
The ultimate goal is “not only to map the important resources for bees on a European scale, but to create dynamic maps of habitat adequacy in terms of the quantity and quality of resources that each geographical area can provide to bees per year, very relevant information not only for beekeepers, but also for state entities that set the limits for the number of apiaries that can be installed in each area of the territory”, said José Paulo Sousa.
This management tool is particularly relevant, the researcher points out, noting that, “due to climate change, the availability of floral resources is a serious problem, as there may be species that stop flowering at a certain time, the flowering period may vary and may cause a mismatch between the flowering period and the nutritional needs of the bees and consequently lead to a change in the health of the colonies with a decreased reproductive capacity and a reduction in resistance to various diseases”.
Essential is, argues José Paulo Sousa, “proper management of landscape-level resources by adopting measures that encourage the implementation of green infrastructures in agricultural areas with floral mixes tailored to each region to allow longer flowering periods.”
B-GOOD “paves the way for healthy and sustainable beekeeping in the EU by following a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach,” says the FCTUC Centre for Functional Ecology researcher.



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