Most of us are familiar with the fact honeybees, an important part of thousands of ecosystems around the world, have been dying off for unknown reasons in the past few years. Even ecologic researchers with Ph.D.s are having trouble diagnose the wide sweeping effects further declines in honey bees could facilitate. Fortunately, technology is here to help bee farmers get more from honeybees with a simple to use mobile app for iPhones.
A beekeeper — a very intelligent one, might I add — in Sweden named Björn Lagerman is nearly finished adding final touches to BeeScanning, an iPhone mobile app that signals to farmers the presence of harmful mites, bugs, and other detriments to honeybees’ population and production.
BeeScanning specifically detects Varroa mites, a species touting a reputation for wiping out entire colonies of honeybees. Varroa mites attach to bees and feed off them, along with munching away the walls of hives. BeeScanning uses complex algorithms to scan over what colonies look like and what characteristics they show to detect the presence of Varroa mites without extensive, expensive testing that only seasoned biologists can accurately perform.
This mobile app is widely considered crucial to honeybee farmers’ success. Just as the app is beneficial for agriculture, a facilitator of effective, widely unknown agricultural techniques, agriculture serves a number of benefits for honeybees. Researchers at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture have discovered in a new peer reviewed paper that agriculture, even in the case of pesticides, are overall advantageous for honeybees.
Honeybees are able to more closely pack into agricultural landscapes because of decreased viruses, bugs, and other detrimental organismic factors into thriving honeybee populations. Also, food resources are more abundant in agricultural settings, especially crops with flowers. Although honeybees are not at all necessary for agricultural success, the back-and-forth giving and receiving of honeybees to agriculture and vice-versa is beneficial for both parties.
The release of information about the upcoming mobile app BeeScanning well complements the anticipated release of four million dollars from the United States Department of Agriculture to help honeybees survive. These grants specifically seek to increase the size of honeybee populations and the honey produced by them. Together, humans can undoubtedly save and benefit from honeybees in agricultural settings.