Another fact-filled, mind-bending day on the front lines of bee- and beekeeping research. Highlights from day two:
- When older bees spend more time with younger bees than older bees that don't, the first group tends to age faster. In other words, hanging out with your younger siblings and kids will make you go grey!
- As if pesticides, parasites, pathogens and monoculutre wasn't stressing the bees enough, there's a new honey bee parasite, Tropilealaps, on the horizon, and it looks really scary. So far it is only in Asia, but it's spreading to the middle east.
- The super highlight of the day was getting to hear Marla Spivak walk her audience through her thought process about her new research, furthering her work on hygienic bees that are resistant to mites. It's not every day that a renowned scientist will share her raw thoughts with an audience of 500!
Stalking the Famous Scientists
After our wild success on day one, it would be hard to match that performance, and alas, we stalked, but did not succeed in making contact. Our target today was the amazing Sammy Ramsey, a recent UMD phD student who discovered that varroa mites do not feed on bee blood, but bee tissue. We did get to catch his amazing talk on that new threat to honeybees Tropilealaps. And, in a very nice moment, Bee Boy's hero, Marla Spivak, sat down behind us during a keynote and reached forward to tap him on the shoulder to say hi! (See, stalking isn't all bad).
Cool Current and Future Technology
Machine learning and AI have come to beekeeping! Two European Companies have developed really innovative "in-hive" sensors that will transform how bee keepers manage their hives
- Arnia, a UK company, has sensors that measure temperature, humidity, hive weight, bee counts and apiary weather conditions remotely. The User Interface allows hive owners to compare data from multiple sensors to keep an eye on colony health and to monitor colony development over time and year to year. The sensors also send an alert if someone is trying to steal the hive, if it's been tipped over, etc. Most impressive, the sensors monitor hive activity outside the hive, allowing users to have a more detailed understanding of when bees are finished pollinating. For commercial growers, this provides precision information about when hives need to be removed from an orchard or field, saving keepers money.
- Similarly, Apisprotect, has developed sensors that transmit much of the same data, but at a lower cost. The company has been collecting data in the trial phase to build information about hundreds of thousands of bees to also link health problems with environmental conditions with the hopes that this information can be useful for not only keepers but researchers too.
- As with all machine learning, as the data is transmitted back to a central server, the Machine crunches and absorbs new data so it can refine the information, building a more precise management tool. And in case of hive collapse, both tools can also be used like the infamous airplane black box--allowing keepers to pinpoint what might have gone wrong. Neither sensor will completely substitute for manual hive inspections, but they can reduce the labor involved and alert a keeper of pending problems.
Having Fun in Montreal
Cool Flow Hives! Can you say "Birthday Present?"