Saving the bees with M2M and IoT technology

Published by Telefónica m2m Team m2m General

M2M technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) is being used in practically every industrial and agricultural field. Today we will focus on an application of M2M devices to deeply impact economy providing bold solutions and go where standard technology has been unable to provide answers.

We have spoken about smart farms and how technology interacts here before, and how M2M is meeting the challenges of modern agricultural industry.  In our Amazing M2M technology series, we have also spoken about cow wearables, for example, how farmers use M2M devices on cows to help them give birth successfully, or prepare them for insemination, which also ensure cows yield more milk.

Today we want to talk about the ‘buzz’ around bees.  There is a worldwide concern on the global spike in mortality of bees. At least 30% of worldwide crops –which rises to up to 84% of the European ones–  rely on pollination and bees are the number one cross-pollinators.

Beekeepers alert that many crops are endangered, not only honey. Carrots, apples, oranges or onions could wither and die without cross-pollination taking place to get Nature’s job done.

There are four known reasons for this alarming descent in global bee population: global warming, pesticide use, habitat loss and epidemic parasites. All these combine in what has been known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), this is, a massive abandonment of hives.

Bee populations in many parts of the world have dropped in one third and now resemble the population registered 50 years ago. Bee farmers worried about the future of their hives and especially about the future of the inhabitants of the hives are turning to technology in their search for answers.

An innovative Australian study uses M2M and the Internet of Things to address the problem and seek answers. 5,000 bees were equipped with a tiny 2.5mm tracking device attached to their backs. The purpose is to observe the behavior of the different members of a hive and create a three dimensional swarm model. The researchers are trying to determine any anomalies in their behavior.

Scientists have concluded that certain environmental elements like use of pesticides can make bees have to modify their flying routes to avoid these threats that deeply impact their lives. Many find, pesticides like neonicotinoids, the biggest complication to saving bees. Yet nothing is yet totally determined and there are no overall conclusions yet.

Having M2M micro-wearables available for a wider population of bees (the test is being performed on a population of 5,000) enables scientists to take hands on action.

Researchers that pick up worrying information on a particular subset of bees to visit in person and perform a more detailed research that provide answers to this befuddling enigma: what is making the bees of the world disappear?

It is crucial to get the population of bees back on track as the demand for cross-pollinating  bees is currently outstripping the available supply of bees all around the world.

Telefónica m2m Team

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