Edible Innovations: This IoT System Gives Diagnostics for Your Beehive

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Edible Innovations: This IoT System Gives Diagnostics for Your Beehive

From Singapore to the USA and all around Europe, Edible Innovations profiles food makers that engage in improving the global food system at every stage, from production to distribution to eating and shopping. Join us as we explore the main trends in the industry from a maker perspective. Chiara Cecchini of Future Food Institute — an ecosystem with a strong educational core that promotes food innovation as a key tool to tackle the great challenges of the future — introduces you to the faces, stories, and experiences of food makers around the globe. Check back on Tuesdays and Thursdays for new installments.

Today we sit down with an Italian Food Maker, Niccolò Calendri. Niccolò and his team will be with Future Food at European Maker Faire Rome next December.

Niccolò is an Electronic Engineer and Riccardo, his buddy and fellow co-founder of 3Bee Corp, has a Ph.D. in biology. They are passionated about bees, and are both beekeepers. They started beekeeping on their own without any mentor or professional course. They enjoy the process of beekeeping because, funnily enough, it is not very easy.

They noticed that, although there may be so much technology available in the world , beekeeping seems to still be very far behind. So, they decided to develop a new tool to make beekeeping both affordable and easy. Their dream is to enable anyone who want to be a beekeeper, and have a beehive in their garden, upon their roof, or on their balcony.

Niccolò, tell us more about your prototype.

3Bee Hive-Tech is an innovative IoT system designed for beehive diagnostic, ensuring real time analysis of the main parameters of bees’ lives and helping beekeepers identify the main causes of bee disappearances and anomalous beehive behaviors. This system allows users to predict and prevent bee death due to environmental and biological factors, swarming, and bee infertility. Hive-Tech is an enabling technology for hobbyists that need a guide in order to make their own honey.

3Bee proposes a sustainable solution in order to prevent bee diseases, reduce chemical treatments in apiculture, eliminate trauma related to poor beehive management, create the biggest beehive database and proprietary algorithm for fast prediction, merge electronic systems together with biological analysis, and prevent bee illnesses, all to help beekeepers.

How did you build it?

3Bee Hive-Tech is comprised of electronic sensors and harvester devices that can be installed in a general purpose beehive (i.e. Dadant-Blatt, top-bar, flow-hive). It’s the first self-sustainable electronic beehive powered by the sun and bee vibrations (energy harvested from bees’ movements).

We designed a pervasive electronic monitoring system with a very low environmental impact. The Hive-Tech system empowers a real-time monitoring of the beehive and it helps the beekeeper in the management of the apiary by saving time and reducing costs, whilst increasing the productivity. A single communication gateway (called E-Queen) located in an apiary can gather, aggregate, and securely send the data collected to up to 10 diagnostic stations (E-Bee) that may be spread around. The hardware system displays an interactive online dashboard (on the Beekeeper cloud) that allows every logged user to see the information collected and displayed. The dashboard provides meaningful insights based on both the readings from the Hive-Tech and weather patterns.

Our solution will improve the knowledge of the bee colony dynamics, allowing the detection of new and smart bio-indicators that will be able to provide an eco-evaluation of the beehive and the bee products. Hive-Tech is intended as the first big data system and service for bees.

The introduction of 3Bee Hive-Tech will allow for a change in the way beehives are managed. Currently, a visual inspection of the hive is one of the most important activities that a beekeeper performs. However, a thorough inspection is a time consuming and invasive procedure which aggravates the honeybees’ status, exposes the inside of the colony to risky external weather conditions, and can lead bees to be crushed when the keeper moves frames. It also makes it easier for infections from one hive to spread to the ones that are checked after it.

Which parts of your project are open source? How can other makers use part of your creation?

For Maker Fair Rome, we are going to present our beehive. Makers can cut and mount their own beehive (and ask for our help if they want it!). Furthermore, thanks to our sensor, they will be able to manage their new apiary! We are in the era of HONEY MAKING and we are tremendously excited!

What sort of impact do you hope to reach with this project?

Apiculture is one of the segments of agriculture that deals with the study, management, and maintenance of honeybees. Honeybees are responsible for more than 80% of the world’s food supply by pollinating about a sixth of the world’s flowering plants and more than 400 different agricultural types of crops. The global annual monetary value of pollination was estimated to be €153 billion (just under $178 billion). In the last decade, bees have been dying faster and faster.

2016-2017, more than 53% of bees in Europe and about 90% of bees in the United States died out. In 2015-2016, the U.S. only lost 44% of bees. We want to contribute to slowing down (and ultimately stopping) this scarring trend.

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Chiara is fascinated by food as a means to impact bodies, minds, and environment. She has studied international business in three different countries, and is an alumni of the Food Innovation Program and US Director at the Future Food Institute.

Based in California, she is also a Research Scholar at Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, working on building the first comprehensive Internet of Food to enable food care through food systems semantics. She is a selected member of Barilla Center Food Nutrition Foundation, a Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future, Board Member at Maker Faire and selected member of the Global Shapers, a young global network of innovators promoted by the World Economic Forum.

She is passionate about social entrepreneurship and impact investing, and aims to leave her mark on society.

View more articles by Chiara Cecchini


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