Although the health of honey bees and bumble bees is threatened by a host of factors including habitat loss, pesticides, pathogens, parasites and climate change, there is no geographic wide-scale data available about the status and dynamics of honey bee and bumble bee populations.
The World Bee Project is launching the first phase of the World Bee Project Hive Network in September, using remote hive-monitoring technology. We aim to grow the World Bee Project Hive Network into an international network of data-producing honey bee hives contributing to invaluable local and global research projects.
An unprecedented 2018 study from the University of California-San Diego integrating data from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world's most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor to natural ecosystem functions. The report weaves together information from 80 plant-pollinator interaction networks. The results clearly identify the honey bee (Apis mellifera) as the single most frequent visitor to flowers of naturally occurring (non-crop) plants worldwide.
Conservation cannot happen without technology
Understanding how pollinators live is a vital component in helping us to ensure that they not only survive, but also how we can help them thrive; and advances in technologies, such as IoT and data analytics, now allow us to do this in more sophisticated ways than ever before.
The World Bee Project Hive Network makes use of Oracle’s cloud and data solutions to collect, analyse and share data on beehives and their surroundings to build a sustainable future for honey bees and bumble bees and the varied environments and ecosystems in which they live and forage.
The World Bee Project Hive Network makes use of some of Oracle’s most innovative technologies to listen to the acoustic sounds within a hive to gain insight into the health of the bees, or to analyse temperature shifts to see how this impacts their behaviour. The system can provide an early warning system to alert beekeepers of potential problems due to increases in diseases, pests or shortages of forage. It can identify local issues in real time and facilitate warnings to beekeepers in affected areas to allow prompt action (for example, a nectar dearth requiring beekeepers to check food stores, or identification of pests such as small hive beetle or the Asian hornet).
The World Bee Project Hive Network will generate significant data on the impact of factors such as land use, agricultural practices and forage quality, on the health and productivity of honey bees and bumble bees. The automatic, remote collection of data will contribute to the understanding of diseases, parasites and predatory species and will help with the development of control measures. It will also help improve understanding of pollination deficits and refine understanding of agri-environment monitoring and evaluation, strengthen existing surveillance, support the needs of policy and contribute to Defra’s National Pollinator Strategy.
Ultimately, it will provide an unprecedented level of detail and understanding that will be shared with scientists, government bodies and beekeepers to help them understand how we can better restore and adapt ecosystems to help support thriving and healthy bee populations.
The World Bee Project Hive Network is also a unique way of engaging the general public with issues of biodiversity and pollinator conservation. By following the lives of real bee colonies in community gardens, national parks people can gain insights into what bees need to survive and thrive.
WE WANT CHILDREN TO THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
At Royal Botanic Gardens Kew we have been talking with children about plant-pollinator interactions and about the global importance of honey bees. Children are fascinated to learn that all pollinator species rely on habitat, and all are essential for pollination without which we wouldn’t have the fruits and vegetables we love to eat.
COLLABORATIONS WITH SCHOOLS
It’s important that children participate in bigger conversations about biodiversity and engage in activities that inspire them to live lives that make a difference to the lives of others and to our planet. We are designing programmes to spark children’s inherent sense of wonder and curiosity and enhance their learning ability. We will explore bees and pollination to understand biodiversity, ecosystems, climate change, food security and sustainability, democracy, animal welfare, history, art, maths and music. We will also offer opportunities for developing practical skills, for example, learning basic carpentry skills to construct hives and planting skills to plant pollinator gardens.
The activities will include interpreting the World Bee Project Hive Network audio data to inspire children to do all they can to look after bees and other pollinators.
“School doesn’t have to be a place, but rather a frame of mind that uses the Arts as a lever to explosive growth, social-emotional connections, and the foundation for the innovators of tomorrow…today!”
The World Bee Project Hive Network can provide an endless well of resources which can be used in STEAM education, covering topics from biology/botany: bee and plant anatomy, bee/plant interactions, seasonal changes, pollination and. geography/environment: ecosystem, land use, food chain, food security, weather, climate change to design & technology: computing, programming, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, Big Data, science/mathematics: measurement, data analysis, generating graphs, statistics, correlations.
An unprecedented study integrating data from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world's most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor to natural ecosystem functions.