Smart Hive for a Smart City
Last week marked the inaugural Boston HUBweek, a celebration of all the city's talent, research, and innovation. Soofa was approached about participating in Inside Kendall Square, an all-day event celebrating Kendall's inhabitants. At Inside Kendall Square, Soofa unveiled a solar-powered Smart Hive prototype as part of a collaboration with Best Bees.
The primary goal of Best Bees, started in 2010 by Noah Wilson Rich, Ph.D., is to improve honey bee health. Best Bees installs beehives and makes beekeeping and honey gathering a reality for people all over the US. It was a HUBweek organizer, Danielle Duplin, who introduced Soofa to Best Bees. Noah was interested in Soofa creating a warming hive with solar. Within a few hours of first chatting, Best Bees dropped off a hive for us to work with. That's the speed of action we like! Leave it to an event celebrating innovation to create new collaborations.
Bees are critically important because the pollination services they provide allow a huge amount of food to be produced. In fact, "it has often been said that bees are responsible for one out of every three bites of food we eat." All good and well, except that massive amounts of honey bees have simply disappeared in recent years. This mysterious disappearance is also known as colony collapse disorder. Given the importance of bees and their dwindling numbers, the services that Best Bees and similar companies provide become all the more valuable.
Though we were initially asked to create a warming hive, after hearing about a number of bee issues we decided to create a full-on Smart Hive prototype. The hive features several sensors, including temperature, humidity, and noise. The way bees hum indicates their health, particularly indicating if there is a disease. The noise sensor can detect a colony disease and allow beekeepers to take appropriate action in time. Temperature and humidity sensors can detect if the colony is too cold. If the bees are chilly, the solar panel can power warming lights that keep the bees alive during cold seasons. The clear component to the hive means that people can look into the hive & get a glance of what's going on. Often, opening up the beehive kills the queen bee, which then kills the hive.
With all the sensors and visuals into the hive, monitoring the health of bees is easier and safer. Beekeepers can intervene earlier if anything goes wrong with the hive, protecting the bees and thus the health of our ecosystem and food producers. The Smart Hive is a smart solution to a big problem. It sure generated a lot of buzz!