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To Keep Bees Alive, The Beehive Gets Smart And Connected

The software can work out whether the hive is getting overcrowded, whether the queen is laying, and even whether the hive has been stolen.

The ApiS is an Internet-connected beehive. No, not so your bees can Instagram their queen selfies, but so the beekeeper can monitor one or more hives from afar. The modular system, built by a team in Portugal, talks to a smartphone app and gives information about honey production, weather conditions, and even external threats.

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ApiS can be had as an all-in-one Smart Hive or as a collection of perts that can be added to existing hives. The Smart Hive includes everything, and offers some extras, like an insulating cork covering that helps regulate temperatures, especially in winter. Cork is also plentiful in Portugal, and since the adoption of screw tops and artificial corks for wine, a lot of those trees are bursting with spare cork.

The modular kit comprises a weighing scale, a temperature probe, a hive monitor, an entry gate that counts bees as they come and go, and a central communications hub. This last unit sits between the hives and connects to cellular Internet, acting as a go-between for all the data, so you only need one. Everything else needs to be purchased multiple times, one for each hive.

Using these simple sensors, the software can work out whether the hive is getting overcrowded, whether the queen is laying, how much honey has been produced, and even whether the hive has been stolen (a real problem as the diminishing bee population makes hives more valuable). The idea is that remote monitoring means less work visiting hives, and more up-to-date information.

The project comes from Miguel Bento, a Portuguese electronics engineer who started beekeeping after a lucky coincidence involving hives bequeathed from his grandfather, and a gift of bees from his cousin. That was 13 years ago, and now he has 20 hives producing 150 kilos of honey every year. The Smart Hive is an answer to the declining bee population. Bento believes that closer monitoring of hives can help keep more bees healthy, living and in production.

The project just launched on Indiegogo. A whole Smart Hive can be had for $646, but a starter kit comes in at less than half that, and includes everything needed to hook up your own hive. Also, did you know that beekeepers are also known as “beeks”? This reporter did not.

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About the author

Previously found writing at Wired.com, Cult of Mac and Straight No filter.

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