Pollination is a fundamental process for the survival of our ecosystems, contributing to food security and biodiversity. Almost 90 per cent of the world’s flowering plant species, 75 per cent of our planet’s food crops and 35 per cent of agricultural land depend on animal pollination, with bees being one of the primary species of this important group. But pollinators are increasingly under threat from human activities.
“We were driven to design a smart solution centred around bee hives after reading research from world leading naturalists that suggests that if our bee populations die out, humans would have just four years left to live,” explains Freya Moore, leader of the project. What’s more, the survival of bees relates tomultiple UN SDGs, including protecting Life on Land and promoting Zero Hunger.
Being members of The Dyson Institute Bee Keeping Club, the project team identified some key problems they could solve. Keeping hive conditions favourable to the colony can be difficult as opening the hive up to inspect it disturbs bees. As such, parasites and unstable heat and humidity conditions can be hard to detect and lead to the decline of the hive.
The group’s invention, Hive Feed, is a modular system that fits into any national standard-sized hive. Thanks to a sophisticated electronics system, comprising of temperature and humidity sensors, internal infrared cameras, microphones, an Arduino Feather and a Raspberry Pi, the smart sensing technology can permanently detect and measure the temperature, humidity and vibrations within the hive. These measurements are fed into a dashboard that shows the user the live conditions in the hive and alerts them when action needs to be taken.