ApisProtect leverages technology to save the honey bees

Date Updated: Wednesday, May 20, 2020

World Bee Day was established in 2017 to “strengthen measures aimed at protecting bees and other pollinators.” May 20 was selected every year to commemorate the birth of Anton Janša, known as one of the pioneers of modern apiculture and born on this day in 1734 in what is now Slovenia.

Today, honey bees play an essential role in global food production. That makes it more important than ever to ensure that we monitor and understand conditions in hives around the world. This urgency prompted Dr. Fiona Edwards Murphy to found ApisProtect, bringing the power of advanced sensors and machine learning technology into the hive to deliver a 24/7 early warning system so beekeepers can give at-risk hives immediate attention.

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Dr. Edwards Murphy described her company’s mission, “Our mission at ApisProtect is to save the honey bees because if we don’t take action now, we’ll lose our most important insect ally. We want to secure the supply of one-third of our diet, and make sure we can nourish and feed the 9.7 billion people on planet earth by 2050.”

Dr Fiona Edwards Murphy. Photo Credit: Jill Cotter

It is estimated that honey bees contribute around $215 billion worth of pollination to the agri-food industry. Many factors, including pests, disease, and predators are spreading faster, and hitting harder, impacting bee populations globally. In the US, beekeepers lost 40% of their colonies in 2018/2019, the highest in 13 years. Losses on this scale are harming the profitability of commercial beekeeping globally and driving beekeepers out of the industry.

Dr. Edwards Murphy continued, “ApisProtect delivers actionable insights directly to a beekeeper. Our bee monitoring technology ensures beekeepers can manage their hives more efficiently and change the nature of beekeeping, moving from scheduled, manual checks to individualized management to maintain the health and productivity of each hive and maximize pollination revenue or honey production.”

The challenges for ApisProtect will be familiar to anyone developing technology solutions to agricultural problems in remote locations. The power consumption needs to stay low and the solution has to contend with issues around rural connectivity. Tackling those issues successfully can have a significant impact on the way beekeepers work, where today they may have to travel two or three hours to visit an apiary and find that when they get there the weather conditions make it impossible to carry out their inspections.

“ApisProtect is a proud Irish company working on a solution to a global problem. We have developed a product that will change the way commercial beekeepers manage their hives and increase their productivity,” said Dr. Edwards Murphy. “We are delighted to work with Microsoft as we scale our company globally over the next two years and improve the health of honey bees worldwide.

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