Scott Amyx: Making a Beeline to Track Hive Health Using IoT Monitoring System

Bees are a critical part of our ecosystem. This is because a large number of crops require cross-pollination by insects; bees alone are responsible for pollinating 400 types of plants. The bee population, however, has been declining at a significant rate. In the last decade alone, the honeybee population went down by an alarming 30 percent in North America. The world requires an immediate solution. But research has offered little progress. Colony Collapse Disorder—the phenomenon where majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen and a few nurse bees—is the reason behind this population decline. Oldooz Pooyanfar, a graduate student from Simon Fraser University, has developed an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled system for actively monitoring the health of beehives.

The Beehive Monitoring System

Oldooz Pooyanfar’s research involves monitoring of over 20,000 honeybees. The beehive monitoring system picks out several communication details from the hives. Consisting of microphones, temperature, and humidity sensors, the monitoring system is installed along the walls of the beehive. The microphones pick up the audio-based data, while other sensors record the temperature and humidity. According to Pooyanfar, learning more about bees entails either analyzing the sound they make or looking at their pheromone. Because all the data is collected in real-time, the system can track abnormalities and enable beekeepers to address these immediately.

Developing an Industrial Internet of Things Solutions

The monitoring system can also track the bees' foraging, check for the queen bee’s presence, and the bees’ swarming actions. An artificial neural network also provides a better analysis of the beehive’s daily patterns and conditions. Unlike other methods of bee monitoring, this IoT-enabled solution does not disrupt bee activity. Pooyanfar’s system also gives more detailed results, ensuring improved management of the bee colony.

Pooyanfar is a graduate student of SFU’s School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering. Her project received initial funding from the MITACS Accelerate program. She is doing her field research care of the City of Surrey. The monitoring system she has developed currently uses off-the-shelf items, but she plans on developing custom-manufactured sensor package as an affordable option for beekeepers. Her efforts to monitor bee activity can ensure improved beehive management and help develop an effective solution to arrest the declining bee population.