The Internet of Bees is reaching its final stages of development. After 24 months of continuous work on three pillars (in-hive and in-field monitoring, and spatial decision support systems SDSS), the project moves forward to a final phase of testing and validation. Consortium partners met before the final stretch of the project to coordinate and ensure the best possible results for bees.
After its launch, IoBee has focused on three different pillars for the future of bee health monitoring. In-hive monitoring, field monitoring of pollinator density and diversity, and satellite mapping. The project has two main features for its innovative approach: interdisciplinarity and cooperation.
Partners from different fields form the working group of IoBee. The team comprises technical specialists on digital monitoring, experts on the Internet of Things (IoT), as well as on spatial decision support systems and even representatives from academia and the beekeeping world. This composition makes innovations possible, finding new ways to tackle technical problems as well as pointing towards actual challenges and expectations from beekeepers.
Partners continuously cooperate not only for the planning and execution of technical developments but also for testing and improving preliminary results. In the final months of the project, field tests become the cornerstone of IoBee. Digital sensors, such as the bee counter and the optoelectronic sensor for pollinator density and diversity, are being tested throughout several contexts. The aim is to provide the most useful tools to understand the risk factors surrounding honeybee health. Thanks to current tests in the field, the project gains the necessary feedback from field practitioners and beekeepers. With such an insight on the application of technological developments in real-life conditions, IoBee is preparing to make the final adjustments before concluding the project.
Currently, field tests are taking place in Belgium, Crete, France, Italy, Romania and Spain. Some of these depend on the collaboration with beekeeping associations, essential stakeholders in honeybee digital monitoring. The following months, beekeepers and researchers will put innovations by IoBee through attentive scrutiny. The objective is to go beyond a working tool for digital monitoring. The project aims at placing user-friendliness and convenience at the centre of its developments. The challenges in the field for monitoring are numerous, and the project attempts to address them in collaboration with the end-users.
Practical challenges for IoBee’s in-field monitoring such as installation, maintenance and resistance need special attention. One of the main challenges for disrupting the digital monitoring market is the ease and durability of systems. Beekeepers and researchers require tools that do not depend on constant manual labour or check-ups. Providing such convenience is one of the objectives of IoBee.
After several workshops with beekeepers around Europe, this new stage of feedback collection becomes an essential part of the project. IoBee takes into account the concerns and actual experiences of beekeepers into the project and integrates lessons learned to technological developments.
In a poll conducted during IoBee workshops, over 90% of the respondents from the beekeeping world either agreed or strongly agreed that technological innovation applied to beekeeping could help improve performance in the sector. After the M24 meeting, consortium partners (Irideon, Avia-GIS, Canetis, Elliniko Mesogeiako Panepistimio and BeeLife European Beekeeping Coordination) are focusing on responding to such needs and hopes of beekeepers, introducing accurate digital monitoring to help shift the ongoing bee crisis.