Objectives of the service
Beekeeping practices are based on a trial-and-error technique, which requires a long and costly procedure to identify the best locations for placement of hives. In addition, beekeepers are facing high levels of bee mortality: the European Food Safety Authority reports mortality rates in the range of 7-50%. When it comes to pollination, no services are widespread in Europe, due to the lack of beekeepers offering the service and to their impossibility to select the hives with the highest pollination potential.
To solve these major issues, 3Bee has developed HIVE-TECH, a Decision Support System for beekeepers based on AI algorithms using data collected directly from beehives and satellite images. HIVE-TECH supports the beekeepers in their practices and in reducing the operating cost. The HIVE-TECH Pollinator platform also supports farmers in achieving successful pollination and yields increase while reducing chemical pesticides use.
HIVE-TECH Pollinator manages the whole servicing process, from the dynamic pricing, based on the effective number and activity of bees delivering the service, to the final payment.
Satellite Earth Observation is the main asset for 3Bee’s Sentinel-based flowering service and HIVE-TECH Pollinator platform development.
Users and their needs
Beekeepers have increasingly reported unusually severe colony losses and sharp declines in bee numbers, particularly in Western European countries. This is linked to the extensive use of pesticides in crops, the diffusion of pathogens and inadequate management practices. Without the right nutrition, optimal migration and appropriate medical treatments, the colony health is at risk.
For this reason, these users are looking for new solutions to improve beehive management and ensure productivity of their hives.
In addition, no technological platform exists for matching growers with beekeepers. Currently, less than 30% of farmers in Europe use pollination services. Their specific need is to:
develop and provide efficient pollination services, tailored to the specific needs of different crops;
monitor the real impact of the pollination service on crop productivity.
Service/ system concept
3Bee aims to optimize its services exploiting satellite technologies. Specifically, the company aims to develop and demonstrate during SENTINEL HIVE-TECH project:
Sentinel-based flowering service, to be included in HIVE-TECH SaaS package. Using satellite images, HIVE-TECH reports real-time information on the flowering status of the crop fields and manages the positioning of hives during pollination. Optimal placement of the hive is crucial for bee nutrition and productivity, improving hives’ performance. This service will be included in HIVE-TECH SaaS and the positive impact of the optimal hives positioning selected according to the flowering status of the field will be quantified through the data collected by HIVE-TECH IoT sensor and the current AI algorithms on hive health status monitoring.
HIVE-TECH Pollinator platform. Using Sentinel data, 3Bee will develop a new cloud platform to connect beekeepers and farmers. HIVE-TECH Pollinator can:
optimize the pollination service, specifying where and when to locate hives, based on satellite images of crops and the real health status of bees’ colony;
verify the effectiveness of the pollination service and provide dynamic pricing, based on the effective number and activity of bees delivering the service.
Space Added Value
Satellite Earth Observation is the main asset for Sentinel-based flowering service and HIVE-TECH Pollinator platform development. These services use input data from Sentinel-1 (weather data, day and night radar imagery for land) and Sentinel-2 (high-resolution optical imagery for land services, such as imagery of vegetation, soil and water cover, inland waterways and coastal areas).
The currently available tools at 3Bee allow for an optimized positioning of hives (space and time) thanks to flowering prediction and geospatial interface to compare different areas where bees can thrive and where it is more dangerous to position them. Adding data collected from satellite images ensures a data driven approach bringing significant advantage during the development of the intended services. A Proof-of-Concept of the algorithms for using satellite data has been developed by 3Bee during the Copernicus Incubation Programme: now, the company intends to fully demonstrate this technology via field test campaigns in Italy, Germany and Spain.
The project kicked off in June 2022. The design is ongoing, with the following achievements so far:
The technological framework for the field data collection was completed with the selection of weather stations, which will guarantee timely and precise information about the weather conditions in the vicinity of the hives. In particular, it is necessary that data transmission takes place on the 3Bee cloud and that data are kept proprietary and centralized. The selected weather station is called Wireless Vantage Pro 2.
3Bee started the coordination phase of beekeepers to be involved in the project for the demonstration phase, prepared the surveys for the beekeepers who have signed the letters of intent and verified their availability to cover all the blooms to be analysed during the project.
3Bee conducted a study on the public APIs to be used in order to download the Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2, Sentinel-3 and Sentinel-5 data;
3Bee conducted a bibliographic study on the papers available in the literature on the study of different phenology environments using satellite images.
3Bee started the development of a software that could support the preparation and analysis of the Sentinel data. This software is packaged in a Python package called Esabloom.