A PhD student at The University of Western Australia who used artificial intelligence to design a smart beehive monitoring system has bee-dazzled judges at the inaugural AgriFutures BeeTech Challenge in Sydney, with his low-cost, low-power and long-range remote solution.
"Artificial intelligence is used on data from low-cost internal hive sensors to estimate the weight of the hive, effectively eliminating expensive and bulky weighing scales from the design. The hive information is sent back to beekeepers in real time."Omar Anwar, UWA PhD student
Omar Anwar, from UWA’s Department of Electronics and Computer Engineering, was one of seven finalists to pitch to key industry stakeholders at the 4th Australian Bee Congress and one of three winners selected to present to potential investors at evokeAG 2023 in Adelaide.
Image: Omar mid-pitch at the BeeTech Challenge
The BeeTech Challenge invited Australian startups and entrepreneurs to present ready-for-market products specifically designed to meet the needs of the honey bee and pollination industry in the key areas of hive health, biosecurity, hive safety, bushfire protection and preparedness.
Applicants were assessed on their ability to provide easy to adopt technologies that offer immediate results for the 9000 commercial beekeepers operating across the country, following the Black Summer bushfires and NSW floods which have compromised Australia’s $147 million honey production industry.
Omar’s smart hive solution Apis PrimeTM, which was developed in collaboration with CRC (Cooperative Research Centre) for Honeybee Products, uses a unique set of sensors to collect data from inside a hive.
Image: Omar testing the Apis Prime prototype
“The electronic sensor data from beehives is transmitted to a remote server using Telstra’s Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT), a cellular technology that has a much bigger coverage in Australia compared to 4G,” Omar said.
“Artificial intelligence is used on data from low-cost internal hive sensors to estimate the weight of the hive, effectively eliminating expensive and bulky weighing scales from the design. The hive information is sent back to beekeepers in real time.”
Omar said the product, which is easy to transport and install, has been tested at various sites in Western Australia with plans to deploy prototypes in other States and ultimately take the product to market.
Image: Lightweight and low-cost, the unique data-collecting sensor
“Apis PrimeTM has been developed for beekeepers with a focus on Australian needs and we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with this product so far,” Omar said.
“As well as being the first to use artificial intelligence for beehive weight estimation, we’re the first to leverage NB-IoT for beehive monitoring, which costs beekeepers less than $14 per month for 100 hives.
“Technology is becoming an increasingly critical component in the war against globally declining bee populations and we’re delighted that Apis PrimeTM was recognised in the challenge and will be presented to industry leaders at evokeAG 2023, Asia Pacific’s premier agrifood tech event, in February next year.”