Application of information technologies in Precision Apiculture

Bee brother is watching

Bees play an essential part in our ecosystem. A new camera technology makes it possible to recognise patterns of behaviour, monitor whether something is wrong in the hive and even predict bee mite infection. Associate Professor Peter Ahrendt is a signal processing specialist and he might be able to play a key role in preventing the current decline in bee population.

Who would have thought that mathematics would come to play a part in balancing our ecosystem? Researchers have shown that sophisticated algorithms are extremely valuable for beekeepers when they want to handle mite infections in their hives.

And hopefully helping as well. Bees all over the world are having a hard time and a new project aims to help them.

Bees are dying at an alarming rate on a global scale, a problem that can have enormous consequences because bees pollinate flowers and crops. In fact, the decline in bee populations could have an impact on the entire ecosystem. However, the key to stopping the current decline could lie in a camera lens.

Sophisticated camera algorithms
A new bee project aims to create an affordable and reliable prototype of a device that can measure different parameters in the hive, such as the number of bees that come and go, the time of day at which this occurs, the temperature, sounds, outside weather, etc.

The project is a collaboration between German, Turkish, Latvian and Danish universities. Associate Professor Peter Ahrendt is the team leader for the Danish part of the project, and he is responsible for the visual aspect. He is working on creating a camera that is able to ‘see’ the bees, count them and recognise different attachments on their bodies, such as pollen or mites.

He will achieve this by using advanced algorithms in a camera with an integrated computer. And this is the tricky part – making a camera that can actually make sense of what it sees.

“Our aim is to make a camera that is capable of recognising patterns and sensing whether there is something wrong in the hive – or even predicting this before it happens,” says Associate Professor Ahrendt.

Mites could be murderers
The parasitic bee mites could be responsible for the decrease in bee populations, and further research will shed more light on this matter.

“Once we’ve tested our prototype, we’ll know a lot more,” says Associate Professor Ahrendt.

This knowledge will be of great benefit to people all over the world because bees play an essential role in the global ecosystem. The new technology will be particularly valuable for beekeepers, and will provide precise data about conditions in the beehives. If a case of bee mite infection occurs, the beekeepers will know the exact amount of insecticide to use and – equally importantly – when to stop using it.