Bees find refuge in a perilous world in a robotic beehive


BEIT HAEMEK, Israel, August 9 (Reuters) – The hum of the bees drowned out the hum of the robotic arm, which operated with efficiency no human beekeeper could match.

One after another, the machine scanned piles of honeycombs that together could house up to two million bees – inspecting them for disease, monitoring pesticides, and reporting everything in real time. danger threatening the colony.

The next-generation beehive was developed by Israeli startup Beewise, which claims this kind of 24-hour care is what is needed to minimize the risk of settlements collapsing.

There has been a drastic drop in the number of bees around the world, largely due to intensive agriculture, the use of pesticides, pests and climate change.

Companies have developed different technologies to try to slow the massive collapse of colonies, such as installing sensors on traditional wooden beehives, or methods to deal with bee loss, such as artificial pollination.

CEO Saar Safra examines a robotic beehive developed by Israeli start-up Beewise in Beit Haemek, Israel on July 29, 2021. Photo taken on July 29, 2021. REUTERS / Amir Cohen

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About the size of a freight trailer, Beewise’s Beehive is home to 24 colonies. Inside, it’s equipped with a robotic arm that slides between honeycombs, computer vision, and cameras. Color-coded openings on the sides allow bees to come and go.

“Whatever a beekeeper would do, the robotic mechanism can imitate it and do it more efficiently without ever getting tired, without going on vacation and without complaining,” said CEO Saar Safra.

This includes harvesting honey, applying drugs, and combining or dividing beehives.

Beewise has already raised $ 40 million in funding from private investors and more than 100 of its systems are in use in Israel and the United States.

(The story has been passed on to clarify funding from private investors in the last paragraph)

Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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