'Save the Bees' - with Data!

Published 09 Sep 2021

By Maggie Chan

With the threats of habitat destruction, urbanisation and use of pesticides, various species of the bee population have rapidly declined - threatening the harmony of the ecosystem. Read more to learn about how data and emerging technologies like AI are being used to help ‘Save the Bees’!

What’s going on with the bees? 🐝

Bees have been considered to be one of the most important species in the world and form a fundamental role in the ecosystem. Through pollination, they help reproduce plants like fruits and vegetables which serve as a food source for other organisms (like humans). For the Earth’s biodiversity, the global honey bee population is of utmost importance.

However, with “habitat destruction, urbanization, use of pesticides, pollution,… predators and parasites, and [the] changing climate” hindering the survival of bees, the natural ecosystem is at risk (Forbes).

The total US managed bee colony declined by 45% in 2012-13. (Intel)

So how is data being used? 👨‍💻👩‍💻

There have been a number of partnerships between conservation organisations and large technology organisations like Intel and Oracle to orchestrate a data-driven approach to understanding reasons for bee population decline and solutions to ‘Save the Bees’.

Oracle, a leading computer software company, has partnered with the World Bee Project to implement a range of technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and data visualisation to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the reasons for the bee decline, which forms a strong basis to derive strategies to help tackle the problems.

The data and insights are collected and stored on the Oracle Cloud, which is then channeled to specialist researchers and conservation projects globally in the hope that sharing real-time information will foster collaboration and accelerate the protection of bees.

What data is being collected and how? 🌡

Bzzzz… That’s right. Acoustic data like the sound of bee’s wings are wirelessly collected from devices like microphones within hives. Why? Well, it turns out that the level of sounds produced by bees within a hive is one of the main metrics for the health of a hive. In addition to this, AI algorithms can help analyse the data to distinguish the sounds produced by bees from hornets, which are a threat to bee populations.

As part of work conducted by Intel and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, “10,000 Tasmanian bees were fitted with RFID backpacks” which enabled researchers to track the bee’s behaviour like flight time and flight distance. This information complemented data collected within targeted bee hives which extracted figures like “temperature, humidity, water pollution, wind velocity [and] even the rate and volume of honey production”.

Where to next? 🪁

While many species of bees are still endangered, the use of data science and new technologies have helped researchers to gain metrics on what has been traditionally been thought as immeasurable. There is still a long way to go towards sustainable bee population growth, however, with the good work that organisations like Oracle are doing with data, one small step can go a long way! 🌼🐝

Sources 📚

Tags: Data Science Applications of Data Science