INTELLIGENT BEEHIVES

Since 2009, we are researching the co-evolution between city honeybees and urban ecosystems in our OpenGreens and Bee Monitoring programs. Bee colonies are now threatened in all industrialized nations. Given that the survival of bees is crucial for human sustainability, there is a great urgency to improve by all means the ways in which colonies could thrive.
The research program surveys in an artistic way the multiple fields of interaction between honeybees and the (urban) ecosystem. It is remarkable to see how a bee population functions and evolves very much in accordance to the human activities we are developing around them: gardening and (urban) agriculture. The production of honey is different related to the flowers we grow, the plants we like, the garbage or pollution we produce. Bees are very responsive to the different biotopes that we share. Though we seem to have rather few insight into what constitutes the diversity of our surrounding living place, and that’s something we want to research on a deeper level. As bio-markers, bees can give us valuable information about living conditions in our continuous productive urban landscapes.

To monitor the bees in a non-intrusive way we are building Intelligent Beehives. This are hives that are augmented with sensors and sensory processing algorithms that analyse the quality of pollen and propolis as well as the behavior of the bees in order to monitor the state of the ecology in the surrounding areas. The Intelligent Beehives are distributed in a European network, the data are available online and the creation of local biological Corridors can be consulted in realtime.

The research towards Intelligent Beehives proceeds in different steps.
First step – the production of sustainable Beehives based upon existing models – is a collaboration between OKNO and the Fab Lab Barcelona. Here we work on an OpenStructures-version of the Warré beehive model (beekeeping for all).
The next step, a collaboration between AnneMarie Maes and Sony Research Lab Paris, is researching the design of organic beehives (form and materials based upon biomimicry) and integrate biosensors in a non-intrusive way. This research will give us detailed information about the behaviour of the colony in the hive and its relation to the environment.

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The story behind the concept
The project ‘Guerilla Beehives’can have an exemplary meaning for the audience if it comes to the public perception sustainability. It is a collaboration between the arts, design and science.
This is the end of the anthropocene. We imagine an ecosystem where all actors collaborate to keep up the resilience of the system. As artists, gardeners, makers and thinkers, we collaborate with animals, plants, insects and bacteria. … (read more…)

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For many years now, I have been creating experimental set-ups using sustainable beehives that have been augmented with camera’s, microphones, sensors and sensory processing algorithms to analyse the state of the colony, the quality of pollen and the behavior of the bees. These “Intelligent Beehives” are progressively linked in a European- wide network and the data is being made available online.
 … (read more…)

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We have been developing a monitoring device that is based upon the continuous monitoring of the colony’s buzz: a non-intrusive scanning device for controlling the colony’s health & development. We also have been adding video monitoring (outside and inside), which gives us a full spectrum of possibilities for colony monitoring and environmental surveillance.
As bio indicators, honeybees provide us with a constant stream of information on the environment (urban, countryside) on which they forage (activity, pollen, nectar). Diseases like colony collapse disorder and environmental problems like the use of pesticides could be analysed in a different way by monitoring and analysing the daily … (read more…)

audio stuff

Vincent was preparing the audio for the sound beehive: 4 electrets microphones and 4 piezo microphones with preamps mounted in the rooftop of the Warré beehive. We’ve put the charger for the preamps a couple of meters away from the hive, to avoid all EMF and to be as less intrusive as possible.
Our initial intention is to install the Asus computer (with debian) and a Mackie mixing panel. Later we decide to swap that setup for a more performative one: an 8 channel Prosonus soundcard, the Asus with Debian for recording and sending the files over the network to a NAS (network attached storage) hard disk.
We will record 4 times 3 minutes an hour, every :00, :15, :30 and :45. The 8-channel … (read more…)

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I decide to do another bee-sound-experiment. The fist one I did was in 2012 with the Transparent Beehive. Then, the focus was on exhibiting in realtime the sound of the colony. During talks and presentations I was making observations and linking them to the amplified sounds made by the bees.
This time I want to do it differently. I will record at regular intervals the hum of the colony and analyse it thoroughly afterwards. I also want to link the sounds with the environmental sensor data (temp, humidity, solar radiation) in the surroundings of the apiary, with the sensor data inside the beehive (temperature, humidity and vibration of the comb) as well with video images in- and outside the … (read more…)

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Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behaviour, and is a sub-topic of zoology. The focus of ethology is on animal behaviour under natural conditions, as opposed to behaviourism, which focuses on behavioural response studies in a laboratory setting.
Many naturalists have studied aspects of animal behaviour throughout history. The modern discipline of ethology is generally considered to have begun during the 1930s with the work of Dutch biologist Nikolaas Tinbergen and by Austrian biologists Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch, joint winners of the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Ethology is a combination of laboratory and field science, with a strong relation to … (read more…)

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Further development: a bio degradable organic hive design and biosensors powered by sustainable energy to develop a beehive that is at the one hand a sensor of the environment (pollution, nectar, pollen analyses) and at the other hand a non-intrusive bee monitoring system (in times of Colony Collapse Disorder). … (read more…)

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Growing intelligent beehives is a long term project, from mycelium and recycled waste straight into the final guerilla beehive shape. The purpose is to populate Brussels city with a network of intelligent guerilla beehives. These are beehives that offer shelter to a bee colony ‘in the wild’ – bee populations that are not domesticated but that are monitored from a distance in a non-intrusive way while they are collecting information about the urban environment.
The system is set up as a fully organic, cradle to cradle, circle. If the bees decide to leave the hive in search for another home, the hive (with integrated electronics) will bio-degrade and compost completely. … (read more…)

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The last weeks I colletected yet on several days pollen at the entrance of the beehives. I also have a pollen collected from spring this year.
On 21/22/23-8 I can work at the Chemical Engineering Lab of the VUB on the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope). The SEM offers the possibility to make perfect 3D images at +20.000 enlargment scale. Ideal for photographing pollen and bee-parts as proboscis, receptors, e.g.
The lab is specialized in surface metals research. I work with Gizem Süngü, a future PhD student. … (read more…)

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Palynology is the “study of dust” . A classic palynologist analyses particulate samples collected from the air, water, or from deposits including sediments of any age. The condition and identification of those particles, organic and inorganic, give the palynologist clues to the life, the environment, and energetic conditions that produced them. wikipedia.
At Sony CSL in Tokyo I meet Masatoshi Funabashi. Masa is an expert in complex systems relations in ecologies. We talk about flowers and insects, and we decide to work with honeybees (among other insects) to collect usefull information on the ecosystem. The bees will work as … (read more…)