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AI enlisted to protect honey bees

The World Bee Project and Oracle are setting up an international network of smart hives that make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing to provide unprecedented insight into bee behaviour and environmental conditions.

Data and analysis will be shared with research and conservation projects around the world to help conserve declining honey bee populations.

The programme is launching with a pilot project in Reading, carried out in partnership with The University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development.

Smart hives incorporating a variety of sensors will monitor everything from temperature, humidity and honey yield levels to the movement of bees’ wings and feet. Data collected will be fed into the Oracle Cloud, where it will be analysed using AI and data visualisation technologies.

It is hoped that closer monitoring of hives and environmental conditions will enable bee-keepers to take action to protect colonies, for example by removing a predator like the invasive Asian Hornet or by stopping a colony from swarming at the wrong time of year.

England’s honey bee population declined by 54% between 1985 and 2005 due to loss of flower habitats, intensive farming methods, climate change and use of pesticides.

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