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Gdynia’s beehives go smart with AI

Gdynia’s beehives go smart with AI

The Polish city is making use of new technologies to monitor the welfare of its bees

The municipality of Gdynia, Poland is effectively mobilising smart technologies to protect biodiversity in the city. The latest example of this is the new system installed to monitor the wellbeing of the bees, installed on the roof of the City Hall. Smartula keeps beekeepers informed about humidity, temperature or weight and helps prevent potential diseases of bee colonies, theft or devastation.

Protecting biodiversity in cities

In 2019, the City Council of Gdynia made the decision to build beehives on the roof of the city hall. Now, the first honey harvest is already a fact – city officials take pride in over 50 litters of honey, produced while they were debating legislation. But although this is a clear sign that bees have found a comfortable home above the local parliament, officials believe that the situation can get even better with smart technologies.

That is why they decided to support an innovative project of Polish origin, for the benefit of bees and for facilitating beekeepers: Smartula. This is an apiary monitoring system developed by a team of students and scientists from the Gdańsk University of Technology in 2017.

According to Tymoteusz Cejrowski, co-founder of the project, quoted on the city website, the system learns the bee’s natural rhythm and tries to inform the beekeeper if it is disturbed. The reasons for changed behaviour can be different: for example, the phenomenon of swarming, when the bees divide and flee from the hive, or the attack of wasps, hornets or rodents. On top of this, Smartula might inform the beekeeper about potential theft.

When implementing the system in Gdynia hives, we want to see how bees behave in an urban environment, discover if their behaviour differs from what is happening in the countryside. Thanks to this, we want to help beekeepers in cities and better situate their apiaries,” concluded Cejrowski.

AI for the benefit of biodiversity: how the monitoring system works?

The Smartula system consists of individual devices, inserted into the hive, that are made of three main components. The first and most important of them is the intelligent frame, which is equipped with a battery-operated and wireless bee monitoring device. Its operation is based on four sensors:

  • temperature and humidity sensor,
  • microphone,
  • accelerometer,
  • hive opening sensor.

Said sensors collect important information from the inside and transmit wirelessly to the servers. The data is then analysed and presented in a simple web application or smartphone where beekeepers can check the condition of their apiaries, without having to physically go there. They will also receive a signal in case the hive is moved, thereby reducing the risk of theft.

Furthermore, the tool allows to constantly monitor the state of the apiary, informs about past and current measurements and events, and makes predictions with artificial intelligence.

Finally, the highlight of Smartula is the sound analysis module. Incoming recordings are analyzed in the context of historical values. Only after a few days, the algorithms know how a specific swarm behaves, so when something happens that causes, for example, a slight temperature change combined with changes in the sound, the system will notice it and inform the beekeeper.

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