They function like normal hives, but the apiaries built in a kibbutz in Israel’s Galilee are decorated with high-tech artificial intelligence systems designed to ensure the longevity of these vital pollinators.
“There are two million bees here,” Shlomki Frankin said as he entered a 12-square-meter container in the Beit Haemek kibbutz in northern Israel.
Called “Beehome”, the project is the brainchild of an Israeli startup and has up to 24 beehives, explained Frankin, wearing a hat and veil to protect himself from stings.
The 41-year-old man told AFP that the hives have a multifunctional robot that does everything from monitoring the bees to adjusting the habitat and providing them with care.
Startup Beewise came up with the idea in an attempt to reduce mortality in species that have seen a sharp decline in recent years due to environmental threats.
“The robot is equipped with sensors that allow it to know what’s going on inside the hive,” said Netali Harari, director of operations at Beewise.
“Thanks to artificial intelligence, our software knows what bees need,” she explained at the hive assembly plant.
Robots can automatically distribute sugar, water and drugs.
If a problem occurs, the beekeeper is alerted through an application that allows remote intervention via computer or in person, if necessary.
The hives run on solar energy, have adjustable temperatures, eliminate pests and can even extract honey automatically with the help of an integrated centrifuge, Harari said.
By the end of May, the startup hopes to produce its own honey for the first time – “the world’s first honey made with artificial intelligence”, she enthusiastically said.
For Frankin, “the robot is a tool for beekeepers, but it does not replace them.”
They “save a lot of time,” he continued, because they allow him to “do very simple things remotely.”
About a hundred of these high-tech hives are already operating in Israel, and a dozen others have been sent to the United States.
Beewise is trying to establish itself on the European market in two years.
Launched in 2018, the startup has 100 employees and by April had raised about $ 80 million to develop its exports.
World Bee Day
According to Professor Sharoni Shafir, who heads the bee research center on the Rehovot campus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the technology could help protect increasingly endangered bee colonies.
“Sometimes it takes a beekeeper a few months to realize he has a problem,” he told AFP, adding that “with the robot, beekeepers can deal with the problem in real time, reducing bee mortality.”
One in six bee species has become extinct regionally around the world, with major engines considered habitat loss and pesticide use, according to a 2019 study.
Shafir points in particular to “the reduction in flower fields due to construction, which has reduced the sources and variety of food for bees.”
To this are added diseases and pests, such as varroa destructor, a mite that has a detrimental effect on honey bees, the professor added.
“In Israel, between 20 and 30 percent of hives disappear each year,” the entomologist said.
He noted that a significant portion of the food consumed by humans is the result of cross-pollination by bees and other insects.
More than 70 percent of crops, including almost all fruits, vegetables, oilseeds, spices, coffee and cocoa, are dependent on pollinators.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization celebrates World Bee Day on May 20, which aims to emphasize the importance of protecting bee species.
“Bees and other pollinators thrive for millions of years, ensuring food security and nutrition and maintaining biodiversity and living ecosystems,” the FAO said.
“We depend on bees,” Shafir said.
© 2022 AFP
Quote: Robot hives in the Israeli kibbutz hope to keep bees buzzing (2022, May 18), extracted on May 18, 2022 from
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