Algonquin College monitors its bee hives with Ottawa-based tech – Ottawa

Algonquin College is using some new Ottawa-based tech to monitor its bees less intrusively, and the company behind the tech hopes it might one day help backyard beekeepers everywhere.

The college maintains five hives, four of which were just recently set up.

To monitor the hives, TwelveDot Labs installed a series of sensors that capture humidity, temperature and sound levels, powered by a solar panel.

They’re working on setting up cameras and also hope to be able to take infrared images later this year, CEO Faud Khan told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning in a recent interview.

CBC Radio associate producer Deborah MacAskill, left, and chef David Fairbanks, right, check out the college’s hives in protective gear. (Jon Castiglione/TwelveDotLabs)

‘Citizen science’

“We really want to get to the point where we can create something that’s low-cost that almost anyone can do … make it like a citizen science kind of project, hopefully get more backyard apiaries set up, and they can just monitor their hives and then hopefully share the data with us,” Khan said.

“People are starting to realize the impact that humans are having on the planet. So if there’s anything we can do to open eyes for multiple generations, I think that’s maybe what we need to really look at. What is that impact we’re having?”

More information about bee behaviour and health could help protect them, said David Fairbanks, one of the chefs for Algonquin’s culinary program. 

“We’re looking at overall hive health: honey production, the brood chamber, the nursery … All these factors traditionally would be [monitored] on a weekly basis, and now maybe you only have to go out every three weeks to check on the hives. So every little bit of monitoring helps, and it’s a much less intrusive way to ensure hive optimization,” Fairbanks said.

Listen to more of the interview with Khan and Fairbanks here.

Solar panel Algonquin College bee hives TwelveDotLabs tech monitoring Aug 2017

This solar panel powers the sensors that monitor the hives. (Jon Castiglione/TwelveDotLabs)

Ottawa Morning bees Algonquin College TwelveDotLabs Aug 2017

You can listen to the sweet sound of these bees in the audio player above. (Jon Castiglione/TwelveDotLabs)

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