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How technology can protect bees and prevent thieves

A new bee protection project is taking place in Germany to create 10 new bee colonies and explore how smart technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), can preserve and protect them. Vodafone has also developed the world’s first IoT anti-theft solution for beehives, GigaBeeProtect, which delivers real-time updates on hive safety and location to a beekeeper’s smartphone.

GigaBee Protect

More than 300,000 bees have been rehomed as part of the project

More than 300,000 bees have been rehomed by professional beekeepers at Vodafone Germany locations in Düsseldorf, Berlin and Königswinter, as part of the joint project with Stadtbienen, a non-profit which aims to help beginners set up sustainable homes for bees in cities.

GigaBee Protect Box

The boxes are manufactured in Berlin workshops for people with disabilities using wood from local, sustainable forestry

The hives are equipped with an AI-based system that evaluates this data in the cloud, providing additional insights on pollen input levels and colour – connected via 5G SIM to enable real time data transmission. This data is shared by apic.ai, a company which specialises automated insect monitoring, with the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture in Germany as part of a separate project to develop technologies to protect biodiversity. 

The challenges facing bees – and why it matters

Bees play a major role in maintaining biodiversity and a healthy natural enviroment – almost 80% of all plants and more than 30% of our food depend on their pollination. But the global bee population is in decline. In Europe, around 20% of bee colonies die each year.

The causes of this decline are varied, but climate change, pesticides, enviromental toxics and the destruction of natural living spaces and food sources are all playing their part.

Technology can help preserve biodiversity and protect the declining bee population by helping measure the effects of human actions on bees and providing valuable insights to industry and government decision makers.

Bee theft – and the technology helping prevent it

Bee theft and the vandalism of hives have been on the rise globally in recent years, mainly due to their increasing value. It is estimated that pollinators, including honey bees, bumblebees and wild bees, contribute at least €22 billion each year to the European agriculture industry.

Vodafone has developed an IoT anti-theft solution to help tackle this problem. GigaBeeProtect, a technological world-first for the protection of beehives, uses sensors and Vodafone networks to send real-time alerts to beekeepers in the event of theft or vandalism.

GigaBee Protect

Vodafone’s GigaBeeProtect is the world’s first IoT anti-theft solution for beehives

If a hive fitted with GigaBeeProtect topples over or changes position, the devices automatically sends a message notifying the beekeeper via their smartphone. In the event of theft – indicated by the hive moving position – a beekeeper can track the exact location of the hive every 30 seconds. The battery of the device can last up to 18 months, as it only wakes in the case of movement, and can be monitored within an online dashboard. This innovation for the protection of beehives is based on a smart combination of low power positioning and NB-IoT or LTE-M.

Vodafone has worked directly with professional beekeepers and hive manufacturers to ensure the technology does not disturb or harm bees in any way.

Technology to support a more sustainable planet

At Vodafone, we are committed to using our networks and technologies to help address the climate emergency. We work with the Carbon Trust to calculate the total greenhouse gas emissions that are avoided as a result of our IoT technologies and services, and estimate that more than 54% of our 123 million IoT connections have directly enabled our customers to reduce their emissions in the past year.

  • Planet
  • COP26
  • IoT
  • SDG 11
  • SDG 13
  • SDGs
  • Technology

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