I am a huge believer of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which is a Sanskrit phrase found in Hindu texts such as the Maha Upanishad, which means ‘the world is one family’. The phrase Vasudhaiva Kuṭumbakam (Sanskrit: वसुधैव कुटुम्बकम्) consists of several words: vasudhā (transl. ‘the earth’); ēva (transl. ‘is thus’); and kuṭumbakam (transl. ‘family’). So, to do something for our home (world), I built this project that would help in its conservation.
It takes more than soil, water, and sunshine to make the world green. At least 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollination to spread and thrive. Unfortunately, bee populations here and around the world are in decline.
Climate change causes some flowers to bloom earlier or later than usual, leaving bees with fewer food sources at the start of the season. Bees suffer habitat loss from development, abandoned farms, and the lack of bee-friendly flowers. Some colonies collapse due to plants and seeds treated with pesticides, or harmful parasites like mites.
The good news is there are ways gardeners can help bee populations bounce back. Planting a bee-friendly garden will not only lead to healthy and vibrant plants, it will ensure that bees continue to play their critical role in our ecosystem.
Being a Technologist, I was curious to see how I might help advance this initiative. I have always been fascinated by the secret life of bees; what is the environment like? How susceptible is the hive to external factors? Why do hives swarm?
After initial research and detailed interviews with beekeepers it was clear that little is confirmed on the impact of external factors on hive health. Beekeepers need a means of unobtrusively monitoring the hives; temperature, humidity and volatile organic compounds which affect air quality, hive stability and its orientation.
My task was clear, using a number of tiny sensors which could be fitted to the hive it would be possible to monitor and report any changes and parameters allowing a beekeeper to respond quickly if conditions threatened the hive, e.g. high winds altering the hive's orientation and affecting its stability. All the data would be collected and pushed on to a dashboard over the internet which could be viewed on a PC or a mobile phone.
Fitbit-for-Bees is a device which consists of an Internet of things gateway with an array of sensors everything put into a weatherproof box. The box only exposes sensor probes that go into the hive, start sending data to the gateway and the gateway pushes it into a database which is visualized onto a dashboard. The system runs on Balena Cloud which is built using open source components that are flexible and super configurable. It's built for containers, secure by design, and field-tested. So it makes a perfect candidate for the project.The sensor are attached using removable clamps which make everything super portable and helps during hive inspection and harvesting. The design has been thought through to be least invasive to the hive’s environment conditions. Just plug in and everything just works with no configuration needed.
The below images depict the hardware and software used in this Fitbit-for-bees Hive Monitoring system
The dashboard shows the current reading as well as in a time-series fashion to see the trend. This would help a beekeeper keep a track when things went different. The software would send an alert email based on the thresholds set up helping to take quick action when most needed.
On the occasion of the 'Earth Day', this is my attempt to demonstrate support for the environmental protection.
I will keep you all posted on the progress of this project, however feel free to contact me over social media channels and I would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have to get started on this journey.
Happy Earth Day…!
Special thanks to Jennie Crilly for proofreading this article.!