It takes fighting ecological collapse, one bee at a time

by Aviva Community Fund | Aug 12, 2021 | Uncategorized

It takes fighting ecological collapse, one bee at a time

Pollenize raised over £8,000 to fund an artificial intelligence beehive project that has the potential to save Britain’s native bees.

These Artificial Intelligence (AI) beehives are the beginning of a pioneering research and conservation plan to understand how factors like weather and climate impact bee behaviour and populations. 

Pollenize co-founder, Matthew Elmes says: “The waggle dance is how one bee communicates to another bee where the best flowers are. It’s a bit like a bee GPS system. We’re working on decoding this dance to work out where the bees are going in real time.”

By kitting out beehives with cameras, accelerometers and other sensors that feed into a machine-learning computer, Pollenize will build up a picture of how bees respond to changes to their environmental conditions. Alongside genetic analysis of the pollen collected, this will help Pollenize better understand the foraging behaviour of our native honey bees and inform climate-resilient planting. This strategy will protect and boost populations of bees and other wild pollinators for years to come.

Of particular focus for Pollenize is encouraging the UK’s native dark honey bees – a population that has seen steep decline over the course of the 20th century. “Traditionally, beekeepers have imported bees from around Europe and this has caused hybridisation amongst populations,” says Matthew. “The native honey bee is adapted to this local climate, therefore it’s the best one to use.”

With the help of Aviva funding, Pollenize will be able to equip two of their reserves with the AI technology and further study the foraging behaviours of our native honey bee. Together, we can make a brighter future happen. Getting there takes you. It takes Aviva.

Would your project benefit from funding or support with how to generate a local buzz? Apply for the Aviva Community Fund today. Follow Pollenize Cornwall to learn about their work on FacebookTwitterInstagram.