Oracle and The World Bee Project have announced a world-first approach to understanding the declines of honey bee populations and helping protect them. 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 a 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.
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.
(TOP: Screenshot of the World Bee Project Hive Network video. Image: Vimeo).
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.
“Our lives are intrinsically connected to the bees,” said Sabiha Rumani Malik, Founder and Executive President at The World Bee Project CIC. “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.”
The data and insights gained by using Oracle 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 aims to 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.
Pollinators are declining at an alarming rate; a serious concern given their importance to global food security or various reasons – bees are responsible for pollinating one third of the global food supply; of the 100 crop species that feed 90% of the world’s population, bees pollinate 70; and England’s honey bees are vanishing faster than anywhere else in Europe, with a 54% decline between 1985 and 2005.
Research is showing that increasingly inhospitable conditions for bees is to blame for their decline – driven by loss of flower habitats, intensified farming methods, climate change and increased use of pesticides.
The World Bee Project is a global initiative addressing biodiversity loss, food insecurity, and poverty, through ecological intensification and pollinator restoration programs. The aim of the World Bee Project Hive Network is to help inform and implement global actions to improve pollinator habitats, create more sustainable ecosystems, and improve food security, nutrition and livelihoods by establishing a globally-coordinated monitoring programme for honey bees and eventually for key pollinator groups.