An American-based company called Beewise created the world’s first robotic hive – called a Beehome – in 2017 to help save and protect the planet’s bees.
The Beehome is a solar-powered, artificially-intelligent, robotic hive, placed in a field, that accommodates 24 colonies of bees – about 2 million bees. It is 1 metre (3 feet) high and 3 metres (10 feet) wide. It can replace the traditional 150-year-old Langstroth wooden bee boxes used by beekeepers.
The beekeeper can care for the bees remotely.The Beehome replicates what human beekeepers do, but on a minute-by-minute real-time basis.
The technology monitors the hive 24 hours a day to regulate temperature and humidity, control pests chemical-free, mitigate swarms, measure pollination capacity and honey production, and test when the honey is ready for harvesting.
For example, if the camera and sensor technology detects that the container of honey has reached 378 litres (100 gallons), the system notifies the beekeeper to collect the honey.
Bees are critical to food production. Bees pollinate about 30% of the global food supply, and 71% of the world’s vegetable, fruit, seed, and nut crops. However, about 40% of bees die every year due to disease, pesticides, and variations in the weather.
The Varroa mite has killed millions of bees around the world, particularly in Europe and North America. Australia was the only continent free of the destructive Varroa mite until June 2022.
Sponsorship from the Australian AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Program helped to bring the Beehome to Australia early this year, 2023, as one solution to help protect Australian bees.
The Beehome technology has a device that destroys the Varroa mite without hurting the bees. A robotic arm moves the bee larva frame into the incubator and back, providing a way to get rid of Varroa without using chemicals.
AgriFutures says that the Australian honey bee industry supports 1,800 commercial beekeepers and about 530,000 commercially-managed hives – the wooden box hives. Some of the beekeepers will now trial the Beehome through a monthly rental program to help care for their bees.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls; pictures of the Beehome are from the Beewise website.
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