Understanding and anticipating mechanisms of honeybee colony mortality with connected beehives
BeeConnected aims to understand the mechanisms underlying winter mortality risk in honey bee colonies and identify early warning indicators that could help beekeepers limiting colony losses and associated economic deficits. BeeConnected combines expertise in several scientific fields, including behavioral ecology, molecular biology, engineering, computer science, and modeling. Working closely with beekeepers, the project will conduct large-scale monitoring of hives along combined gradients in climate (continental, temperate, and Mediterranean) and landscape complexity. The monitoring will combine traditional field observations with automated systems that use multiple low-cost sensors to track colony performance in real time and in three dimensions inside the hives. The data will be linked to mechanistic models to assess the risk of bee mortality and identify early warning indicators. The ultimate goal is twofold: (i) to improve knowledge of honey bee winter ecology (the currently hidden side of the species with direct interests for humans, stakeholders, and science) and (ii) to derive decision-support tools for beekeepers and farmers (to ensure adequate pollination services) to sustain their professional activities.