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Thu 11 Jul 2019 12:14 PM

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Quite a buzz: connecting intelligent beehives for long-term data analysis

We4Bee's scientific research sheds a light on environmental challenges and is at the heart of Microsoft's AI for Earth programme

Quite a buzz: connecting intelligent beehives for long-term data analysis

An AI initiative aimed at collecting data on beehives and bee behaviour, is under way in Germany. Funded by the Audi Foundation for the Environment, the project called We4Bee will create a worldwide network for data collection and analysis of the world’s dwindling bee populations.

The project is the brainchild of world-renowned bee expert Professor Juergen Tautz, who has authored several books on the subject and is the founder of HOBOS, a project that draws on data from microchipped bees to amass information and whose approach forms the basis for We4Bee.

We4Bee has been awarded a grant from Microsoft’s AI for Earth program, which supports projects that use artificial intelligence to address four critical areas that are vital for building a sustainable future (agriculture, biodiversity, water and climate). Under the “AI for Good” motto, Microsoft supports organisations and projects that promote issues such as human rights, accessibility, and environmental protection.

The Microsoft “AI for Earth” programme helps researchers and organizations to use artificial intelligence to develop new approaches for the protection of water, agriculture, biodiversity and climate. The initiative aims to solve the great challenges facing humanity with the help of artificial intelligence.

We4Bee aims to connect intelligent beehives equipped with sensors with the cloud, in order to carry out long-term analyses of bee colonies and environmental data, and to investigate the effects of certain influences on bees using data-science methods.

Initially located in Germany, the project founders aim to expand the techniques around the world.

German schools and educational institutions will take care of bee hives and ensure that they send data continuously. Each bee colony is additionally looked after by a beekeeper. With the We4Bee app, participants can track which data is transferred to the cloud. This includes information on temperature, humidity, air pressure, weight, noise and particulate-matter pollution. Every user can use the app to compare his or her hive with others in the cloud.

“The high-tech beehives allow us to draw conclusions about the health status of bees and to indicate any need for action,” says Claudia Leikam , Managing Director of We4bee. “By exploring possible relationships between environmental factors and bee behaviour, we want to make a contribution to environmental education and especially to inspire young people for science and nature conservation.”

“We are proud that we4bee is one of the 298 projects supported by ‘AI for Earth’ and are delighted to have Microsoft as a valuable supporter,” says Rüdiger Recknagel, Head of the Audi Environmental Foundation.

Christine Haupt, General Manager Microsoft Services of Microsoft Germany, says: “For Microsoft, it is a duty and obligation to make technology usable by all and to apply it responsibly. Artificial intelligence can be an important building block for a better future. We are very pleased that with We4Bee, we are supporting a project from Germany that uses the latest technology to offer important research findings for the protection of bees.” 

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