By displaying the installations and findings of the research at art/science exhibitions, the OKNO URBAN BEE LAB team gives a critical comment to spark the discussion on Urban Ecologies and the disappearance of the Honeybees, hereby emphasizing the importance of experimentation and continually evaluating what is possible in a close collaboration between scientists and artists, and between interdisciplinary fields of biology, computer science and design.
The custom made observation device Soundbeehive version 1.0 was providing data and audio processing, it was as well integrating low-energy computing for the organic electronics for sensing the microclimate in the hives.
OKNO’s Urban bee lab team has qualified sound engineers who have already developed sound architectures with customised microphones within the beehives. This delicate task (the bee sounds are very subtle) asks for a careful and professional approach to come to a hardware architecture which is non-intrusive for the bee colony. Pre-amplifiers, contact- and omni-directional microphones are attached to and spatialised in the beehive such that the subtle bee-sounds are captured in a scientific reliable process but without hindering the colony in its daily behaviour. In the most recent setup, 10 spatialised microphones record continuously the sounds in the brood box, as well as the take off and landing sounds of the bees on the landing platform, and the movements of the bees through the different stacked boxes of the Warré beehive. The sound-files are sent via an internal network to a NAS HD for storage. A parallel computer setup assures the real-time online streaming of the bee sounds. All files are annotated with human observations. The time-stamped sensor data (temperature and humidity inside/outside are the most important) is automatically linked to the soundfiles to give a full spectrum of information.
Concerning the application of organic electronics, the OKNO-team has already installed and tested experimental setups for distributed temperature sensing in the beehive using low power thermistors.
The custom made observation device Soundbeehive version 2.0 will focus more on the visual side. A novel design should make it possible to create as well a beecounter as to getting an overall view on the development of the colony – this with the image of only 1 infrared camera positioned at the bottom of the beehive.