Tinder for Bees

Blazer Technologies Ltd. (IE)

Tinder for Bees is an interactive project that allows visitors to participate in the protection of honey bees. Blazer Technologies is dedicated to digitising the apiculture (or beekeeping) industry to protect honey bees from things like Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). CCD is a term used to describe the mass disappearance of worker bees from honey bee hives, resulting in a breakdown of colonies. It poses a major threat to the apiculture industry, with more than one third of honey bee colonies collapsing every year.

The primary challenge beekeepers face in combating CCD is the early detection of its causes, including: Varroa mites, a deadly parasite that sucks bees’ blood and transmits diseases such as deformed wing virus; pest intrusions, such as wasps, who kill bees and steal their honey; malnutrition, due to the monoculture trend in farming and the lack of variation in their diets; and pesticide exposure, that poisons and kills bees.

One way Blazer aims to protect against CCD is by installing honey bee monitoring devices on hives around the world to notify beekeepers of threats. The device will take pictures and use machine vision technology to identify problems. The team aims to develop a fully automated system for removing both Varroa and pests from hives without using any chemicals.

This exhibit consists of images collected from Blazer’s second generation prototype. In order for the images collected to be useful for development they must first be classified by the visitor into different folders based on what’s in them. With the images classified, Blazer will be able to train algorithms that can be used to automatically recognise these problems and begin saving honey bees.

PROFILE

Blazer Technologies was co-founded by three Trinity College Dublin students in 2015 with the aim of digitising the apiculture industry to protect and preserve honey bees for future generations. Joseph Lanzillotta studied business and economics and is now Blazer’s CEO. John O’Reilly studied engineering and is now Blazer’s CTO. Francis Yates continues to study mechanical engineering and, after initiating the idea, has maintained his role as Blazer’s Innovation Officer. The team first came together for the Trinity College Dublin LaunchBox incubator program in the summer of 2015. It was during this program that the team was introduced to Movidius, the world leader in embedded machine vision technology. With direction from Movidius, the team has now built a first and second generation prototype. The second was used to collect the images for this exhibit.

The Open Ag Lab presents some of the cutting edge research being field tested on farms and is a space for visitors to get their hands dirty through learning.