World’s first AI smart hives help conserve declining global honey bee populations
Release Date 16 October 2018
Bee experts from the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture are taking part in the launch of a new partnership between technology and conservationists.
Professor Simon Potts is a co-founder of the World Bee Project, which today announced a world-first approach to understanding the declines of honey bee populations and helping protect them with technology and computing company Oracle.
The new programme uses cloud technology to better understand honey bees, the world’s most important single species of pollinator in agricultural ecosystems. The World Bee Project Hive Network will remotely collect data using an international network of connected beehives. The data will then be fed into Oracle’s Cloud, which will use analytics tools including artificial intelligence (AI) and data visualisation, to give researchers new insights into the relationships between honey bees and their environments.
"Honeybees give us more than just honey. They help us grow some of our most iconic foods" - Professor Simon Potts, University of Reading
The World Bee Project Hive Network will allow researchers to ‘listen’ to the honey bees – analysing intricate acoustic data captured inside the smart hives, including the movement of bees’ wings and feet. Combined with other precision measurements – including temperature, humidity and honey yield – researchers will be able to closely monitor bee colonies, detecting patterns and predicting behaviours.
This will enable conservationists and bee keepers to take action to protect colonies, such as preventing swarming at the wrong time of year or removing predators like the invasive Asian Hornet. The value of the data is in informing beekeepers of various different states of the colony throughout the year to aid colony management.
'Extraordinary marriage between nature and technology'
Professor Potts said: “Bees face serious problems such as climate change, disease and pollution. They need everyone’s help to thrive, including from charities and businesses. Technology is playing an increasing role in helping us to learn more about pollinators. That’s why we’re excited to work with Oracle and the World Bee Project.
“Honeybees give us more than just honey. They help us grow some of our most iconic foods. While there’s more than 250 species of wild bee in Britain, there’s only one type of honeybee.”
Sabiha Rumani Malik, Founder and Executive President at The World Bee Project CIC, said: “Our lives are intrinsically connected to the bees. By protecting bees and other pollinators we can help solve problems with global food supply and poverty and reduce further loss of biodiversity and damage of ecosystems. Our partnership with Oracle Cloud is an extraordinary marriage between nature and technology. It will engage the public into caring more and more for pollinators, it will enable advanced research and, crucially, action on a scale previously impossible to achieve.
“The more we understand the relationships between pollination, food and human wellbeing, the more we can do to protect bees and pollinators – and help protect our planet and ourselves.”
'Changing the game' for conservation efforts
The data and insights gained by using Oracle Analytics Cloud will be made available to research and conservation projects working to protect bees around the world. By sharing resources and fostering collaboration, The World Bee Project Hive Network initiative will multiply its impact and enable greater action to save bees.
“Technology is changing the game for conservation efforts,” said John Abel, Project Director, Oracle Cloud. “Using cloud-based technology, the World Bee Project is going to have a truly global, real-time view of bee population health for the first time. This will arm researchers with the information needed to work with governments and beekeepers to help reduce the decline in honey bee populations.”
The World Bee Project CIC partners with the University of Reading School of Agriculture, Policy and Development, one of the top 10 agriculture schools in the world. In future the partners hope to add the vision of bringing novel IT and knowledge to support ecological intensification.