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article imageHow can the Internet help save the bees?

By Tim Sandle     Jul 21, 2016 in Environment
Wurz - Around the world bee populations are in decline, a result of pesticides, mite infestation and climate change. The Internet could help in the battle to save the bees.
Saving bee populations is not simply a matter of species conservation and maintaining biodiversity. It is also a matter of great ecological and social importance. Bees produce a commodity (honey) and they play a critical role in the pollination of crops. Some doomsday scenarios point to a food crisis should the decline in bee populations fall below a critical threshold. Greenpeace, for example, states that up to 75 percent of the world’s crops would suffer some decrease in productivity.
Indeed Albert Einstein once told a French magazine: “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would have only four years left to live.”
Various measures are being considered to protect bee populations. These include monitoring hive health; the establishment of protective zones; and the banning or restriction of certain pesticides in certain countries.
The pesticides of greatest concern to bee conservationists are those of the neonic class (or neonicotinoid pesticides.) Neonicotinoids are a type of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine. The pesticides, used to kill aphids on crops, have been associated with killing bees. In some areas of the world, like Ontario, the use of the pesticides have been banned due to scientific evidence about the harm caused to bees. This also extends to the U.S. and parts of Europe, but controversially not to the U.K.
For example, data collated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), shows that a common neonicotinoid called imidacloprid leads to hive populations declining.
Another conservation measure being adopted is the use of the Internet, according to SAP News’ Carmen Peter. In the feature, the connection of beekeeping operations via The Internet of Things (IoT) is put forward as a way of sharing information, such as best practices for increasing yields or maintaining hives.
Enthused by this, Vertex Innovations (@VertexInnovate) tweeted: "#IoT could provide a solution to save the bees." Similarly, Beecraft (@BeeCraftMag), the voice of British beekeepers, tweeted: "Saving #Bees With The Internet Of Things #IOT."
Here beekeepers would be able to collect data on key factors like temperature and humidity within hives and around the surrounds. This would include collecting such information as light and noise. The idea has been put forward by University of Würzburg etymologist Dr. Jürgen Tautzt. For an ongoing project, in Germany, weather stations provided by Deutscher Wetterdienst (Germany’s weather service) are being used to correlate environmental data against bee colony health.
More about save the bees, Bees, Honeybees, Bumblebees, Internet
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