In this Aug. 7, 2019 photo, U.S. Army veteran Wendi Zimmermann transfers a frame of bees to a new box, while checking them for disease and food supply at the Veterans Affairs' beehives in Manchester, N.H. Veterans Affairs has begun offering beekeeping at a few facilities including in New Hampshire and Michigan, and researchers are starting to study whether the practice has therapeutic benefits. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
INTERNATIONAL - A digital beehive may be the next step to help understand why the number of bees and other pollinating insects is falling rapidly.

Nordic software consultant Tieto Oyj has placed sensors in two beehives in Sweden, connecting some 80,000 bees in each to the Internet. The hives send data to the off-site servers where it can be remotely accessed in real time, and soon artificial intelligence algorithms will be used to analyze the information.

Using technology, Tieto says it can better track the number of bees, how viable the community is and how much honey they produce. That contributes to research and conservation of biodiversity, said Mikael Ekstrom, digitization consultant at Tieto and beekeeper. According to him, the project also shows the benefits of a digitized society.

A growing number of honey bees die each year due to pesticides, vanishing habitats, poor nutrition and climate change, with potentially disastrous consequences for agriculture and natural diversity.

Humans quickly “need to get under the hood of the beehives, and understand more why they are decreasing and how we can help,” he said in an emailed response to questions. “Modern Internet of Things-technology, artificial intelligence, cloud services etc. now give us the tools to collect and execute in these areas.”

In this Aug. 7, 2019 photo, the queen bee (marked in green) and worker bees move around a hive at the Veterans Affairs in Manchester, N.H. Veterans in programs like the one at the Manchester VA Medical Center in New Hampshire insist that beekeeping helps them focus, relax and become more productive. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Tieto collaborates with HSB Living Lab, and its two connected beehives are located in the Swedish cities of Gothenburg and Kalmar. While the project is small in scale, Ekstrom said Tieto is in discussions with the Swedish National Beekeepers Association on how the project could be scaled up nationwide.

“The rapid technology evolution is working in our favor,” he said.

In this Aug. 7, 2019 photo, bees return to a hive at the Veterans Affairs in Manchester, N.H. Veterans Affairs has begun offering beekeeping at a few facilities including in New Hampshire and Michigan, and researchers are starting to study whether the practice has therapeutic benefits. Veterans in programs like the one at the Manchester VA Medical Center insist that beekeeping helps them focus, relax and become more productive. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)


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