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Binary Bee

An early warning system for honey bee hives

A self-monitoring honeybee hive that detects early signs of disease in the honeybee colony.

The hive monitoring system takes advantage of the special early warning characteristics of the brood cells in the honeycomb and tracks any changes in the breeding patterns; such changes can be indicative of the early signs of hive disease.

A scanner is used to capture daily images of the brood and these images are digitally analysed for any unusual patterns. If symptoms of sickness are detected an alert is sent to the beekeeper who can then take appropriate measures to prevent the decline of the hive.

The UK is suffering one of the worst rates of honeybee colony deaths in Europe. Epilobee, a 2012/13 European Commission study, detected a colony mortality rate of 29 per cent during the winter of 2012/13, worsened only by Belgium. Summer mortality rates were also shown to be high at 9.7 per cent in 2013, with only France having a higher rate.

The system is being developed by Julia Johnson, Wates’ Social Enterprise Fellow at InnovationRCA based on work she began whilst studying for her MA in Innovation Design Engineering at the RCA.