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Beekeepers Get a Leg Up with Crowdfunding

May 01, 2017

Bee Colony Collapse, Health, Honey Bees, Honey Industry

Beekeepers around the world have their hands full keeping their honeybee hives healthy and active, especially given the threat of colony collapse disorder (CCD), loss of food sources, pathogens, and pest infestations. Thankfully, proactive efforts are being made on all sides to help these apiarists better monitor their hives. Hivemind, a New Zealand-based “smart hive” company, has started a crowdfunding campaign to provide remote surveillance of hives for beekeepers.

The campaign, called “The Hive Strength Monitor with WiFi” campaign, seeks to make an accessible, affordable mobile form of Hivemind’s Hive Strength Monitor satellite system available to the public. This would specifically be for commercial pollinators, small business or hobbyist beekeepers, and general honey lovers wishing to help honeybees how they can.

The Hive Strength Monitor System

The WiFi Hive Strength Monitor is said to warn beekeepers of impending signs of agitation or trouble and track and report any changes in hive temperature and humidity as well as bee activity. It also offers immediate hive protection from threats and helps lessen honey and bee loss from hunger, pests, and even swarming. Beekeepers will be able to see for themselves their hives' condition via a smartphone app. “Hivemind data alerts can allow beekeepers to proactively assess the situation and mitigate any risk to their hives quickly,” said Berwyn Hoyt, Hivemind’s director.

The Hive Strength Monitor system, which comes with remote monitoring software and sensors, spent two years being developed, funded partially by New Zealand's Callaghan Innovation. Now, there are nearly 300 Hivemind installations in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Some customers are reporting honey yields increases at up to 18 percent. The data system, according early Hivemind adopter Mike Everly, lets customers know what is going on throughout the season, which is critical for management decisions, such as when to harvest and when to add hive boxes.

The help offered by the Hive Strength Monitor system is crucial for beekeepers everywhere, and hopefully this crowdfunding campaign gets the support it needs for the future. “Keeping bees happy has become a primary environmental concern where technology can play a significant role,” Hoyt said. “We hope that with enough support, our WiFi enabled Hive Strength Monitor and smartphone app can help beekeepers worldwide to better understand and optimize the condition, health, and yield of their managed honeybee colonies.” This would especially help US honeybee populations, given our big pollination industry, known for contributing to the spread of disease among the bee populace.

Photo via kosolovskyy / Shutterstock

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