Researcher develops smart beehive monitoring system to study Colony Collapse Disorder

Graduate student Oldooz Pooyanfar from Simon Fraser University, in Canada's British Columbia, has set up a system to monitor what over 20,000 honeybees housed in hives in a Cloverdale field are "saying" to each other, in a bid to uncover clues about their health.

According to Pooyanfar, improving knowledge about honey bee activity is critical, given a 30-per cent decline in the honeybee population over the past decade in North America due to what is called Colony Collapse Disorder continues.

The drop in the number of bees affects both crop pollination and the environment.

Pooyanfar's monitoring platform is placed along the wall of the hive and is fitted with tiny sensors containing microphones that monitor sound and vibration.

It also manages temperature and humidity and enables data collection on sound within the hives. It also tracks any abnormalities to which beekeepers can immediately respond. The high-tech smart system will gather data over the summer.

According to Pooynfar who has been working with Chilliwack-based Worker Bee Honey Company, better understanding the daily patterns and conditions, using an artificial neural network in the hive, will help to improve bee colony management.

With current methods of monitoring the information that can be gathered is less detailed. It can also disrupt bee activity for up to 24 hours every time the hive is opened.

According to commentators, on a macro scale, the smart hive-monitoring project could represent another smart-tech solution to help scientists understand one of the biggest mysteries currently facing the insect kingdom.

On a micro scale individual beekeepers may be able to use it as a valuable tool to monitor to better manage their business.