Digital Fabrication Helps The Bees With An Opensource Beehive

 Did you know that one in every third food bite you consume depends on successful pollination of plants, specifically attributed to pollinators like bees? According to scientists, if we are to overlook this continued decimation of the bee population, then that time is not far away when we may find ourselves at a huge irreparable loss.

This calls for an undertaking from our parts to protect bees and their beehives, who are on a rapidly decline due to climate change and various other reasons. This very need led to the formulation of an open source beehive project  and resulted in the creation of an open source beehive, the design of which is open to use and modification.

What is Open source beehives all about.

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Top bar open source beehive

Their main goal is to build and facilitate a group of citizen scientists, to understand the reason behind the rapid decline of the bee population; which as of yet, remains a mystery. There are some points that need to be taken into cognisance, these points would help us better analyze this project.

Furthermore, these set of digital files ( the usage of which has been presented below), could be used on a CNC machine to replicate these stylish beehives. One such beehive would follow the best beekeeping practices, as well as create a conducive environment for your bees!

1. The beehives so designed are known to respect best beekeeping principles, which, in turn, create a facilitating environment for our bees and help them grow as well as work to their maximum potential.

2. They also use a field data logger mechanism which assesses the audio and video inputs provided by the bees. Such an input helps the project observe the state of the bees, and prods you into taking corrective measures if necessary.

3. After that comes the beehive classification algorithm, which is used to observe and analyze the various audio signals emitted from the beehive. Such input, one obtained, would help characterize as well as segregated the behavior shown by the bees, tallying it from a long list of beekeeping practices. This list includes intimidation on various factors like swarming, moth invasions or the worst possible case – Catastrophe ( theft or invasion ).

4. Also, there is the buzz box hardware, which could be installed non-intrusively in the beehive. This piece of hardware would help keep a tab on various factors inside and outside the beehive. It would help you track the temperature, battery charge, barometric pressure, and hive vibration. All of this data could be easily accessed on your smartphone and would help you in keeping a tab on your bees.

5. Finally, there is the buzz box phone app, which is meant to provide you with notifications as well as readings of your bees behavior. All of this could be gotten on your smartphone and is easily accessible to read and refer to. Also, if any significant change is noticed, an intimation would be provided to you almost instantly, which would make your life far easier

Why do our bees need help

To understand this important point, we have to understand their importance to us. If bees wouldn’t have been there to pollinate our crops, hard labor related pollination would cost us over 300bn$ ( Global estimate ). Now, that isn’t a small figure to pay no heed to; also, as have been asserted above, they provide us with a third of our food!

There are many factors and facets behind the rapidly declining population of the bees. Some have been enunciated below, this would help you better understand the reasons attributed to it.

1. Pesticides

Pesticides are a major “buzz kill”. Jokes apart, excessive utilization of pesticides in agriculture has lead to the creation of an unhealthy environment for our bees. There are many pesticides that are known as the bee-killers, but there have been no concrete steps taken to prevent their usage. Albeit, they are usually ignored, for the greater good, or something like that!

2. Mass agriculture

Wild pollinators need more than agriculture-related plants to work. Due to the explosive decline in forests, grass and shrubs, bees find themselves at a loss of a place to call their “home”. Also, intensive agriculture commands more than 35% of the ice-free surface area, with it growing year-on-year.

3. Climate Change

The much talked about topic of climate change would have adverse effects on the growth of the population of wild pollinators. This erratic change in temperature, rainfall, and many other factors leads to a confusion in pollinators about the ongoing season.

4. Parasites

Parasites like Varroa mite have, over the years, led to a rapid loss of bee colonies. If research is to believed, then they are as inimical to bee health as are pesticides usage. When pollinators contract such parasites, they tend to experience a rapid decline in their immune system and find it hard to fight and fend off minor diseases. Now, that leads to an unaccounted number of deaths in pollinators.

What can an Open source beehive do

With the ever-growing grasp of technology over our normal lives, it would be wise to use this knowledge in preserving something that means so much to us. If we are able to create an healthy environment for our bees, then it would, in turn, also benefit us in the long run. Furthermore, such steps taken by an open source project  are always steps in the right direction, as it allows people to participate, modify, and collaborate on such an importa issue.

A decimation of their population due to climate change, pesticides, pathogens etc. could lead to a massive loss of our food security. Hence, Citizen science or public participation in scientific research is the need of the hour. If all of us come together to provide our opinion on the subject, then that time is not far away when the bee population would be more robust.

Also, when we utilize the help of technology, it becomes much easier for us to keep an observant check on bees and their conditions in beehives. This would also aid us in fending off any unwanted attack on them!