A project using smart technology to help the plight of the humble honey bee has won a global competition for Irish students at University College Cork against challengers from MIT/Boston University (2nd) and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands (3rd).
The students created an energy-neutral smart beehive for the IEEE /IBM Smarter Planet Challenge 2014. The competition organizers asked students worldwide to come up with an innovative solution to a grand challenge facing their community.
The UCC pilot project uses big data, mobile technology, wireless sensor networks and cloud computing to look at the impact of carbon dioxide, oxygen, temperature, humidity, chemical pollutants and airborne dust levels on the honey bees, using solar panels for an energy neutral operation.
The energy neutral smart beehive, currently in its first pilot phase, can autonomously monitor the activity of the bee colony and conditions within the beehive. The data, stored in an active beehive, is protected through traditional methods including cryptography, but the bees also protect it, as team leader Fiona Edwards Murphy says “Honey bees are vicious when protecting their hive, including our data!”
The students’ research will also allow bee keepers to monitor their hives at times that were previously difficult or impossible such as during the night, heavy rain, or in the depths of winter.
L-R: Lily Pinson, Fiona Edwards Murphy, Katie Hetherington, UCC President Dr Michael Murphy, Liam O’Leary and Killian Troy.