Citizens' contribution for the project is just as important, Source: Depositphotos

AI can help save the bees in this Belgian town by flower mapping

AI can help save the bees in this Belgian town by flower mapping

Nijlen wants to be known as a bee-friendly town, which transforms words into actions

Nijlen is a small Belgian town, located to the east of Antwerp, which has the ambition to be known as a bee-friendly municipality. From installing insect hotels to convincing local farmers to create flower borders between their fields, the town has done everything possible to create an environment that is conducive to the thriving of the little flying honeymakers.

Now, the municipality is inviting citizens to support a pioneering project by the Flemish Bee Institute (VBI) (yes, apparently, there’s such an organization), called ‘Buzzwatch’, which will enlist the help of artificial intelligence (AI) in helping reduce

Bees’ winter mortality

That itself is a complex issue, however, what’s clear is that large perishing rates of these insects can threaten the well-being of ecosystems and agriculture since many plants rely on the pollinating capacities of bees.

VBI plans to match bee populations and the relevant plants that they like to visit. By aerial mapping and the analysis of flower photos submitted by volunteer citizens, the smart system will manage to optimize the installation of hives, so that they’ll be close to the plants.

We have the science and the knowledge. The company Plantsoon will provide the app where citizens can easily record their observations with the photo they take. Only the financial side needs to be tackled, as the development costs are around 150,000 euros," explains René De Backer, president of VBI, as quoted by Belga news agency.

Nijlen was chosen as the test bed due to the high bee mortality last winter there and also because it’s surrounded by heathland. But before they get to snapping photos of bees and flowers, citizens are invited to help out the initiative by casting their online vote by noon on 3 November on

The latter is a website that aims to inform and involve them in the development of new AI applications in that Belgian region. The winning initiatives will get up to 125,000 euros in funding.



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