Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Deutsche Telekom uses NB-IoT to connect beehives

Steve Rogerson
June 27, 2018

Deutsche Telekom is creating a buzz in the IoT world with two smart beehives on the grounds of its headquarters in Bonn. Equipped with IoT technology and linked up to its machine and NB-IoT sensor network, the hives are being cared for in close cooperation with a local beekeeper.
Smart sensors collect and transmit temperature, humidity, weight (showing how full the honeycombs are) and sound data direct from the beehive to the beekeeper via the T-Systems cloud. The beekeeper simply needs to look at a smartphone or tablet app to find out whether the bees are healthy.
The beekeeper can assess the behaviour of the bees and conditions in the hive at any time and take action when needed. This avoids unnecessary trips to the hives and reduces the number of disturbances for the bees themselves.
Two additional digital beehives at the T-Systems Innovation Center in Munich are also transmitting data to Bonn. The data from Munich can be compared against that collected by a beekeeper in the Bonn region, who has also fitted sensors to her hives, and data from the new Telekom bees to contrast the conditions at different sites. This is how digitalisation is making an important contribution to ensuring the survival of the species.
Some 80 per cent of the 2000 to 3000 cultivated and wild plants native to Germany rely on honeybees for pollination. Some experts are convinced that, humanity would starve without bees. According to the Deutsche Imkerbund (German Beekeepers’ Association), some 870,000 bee colonies in this part of the world fly from flower to flower collecting pollen and nectar. In summer, the population of each colony grows to between 40,000 and 60,000.
Last year, agricultural economists at the University of Hohenheim in Germany calculated the importance of honeybees to the national economy. According to their study, pollination by bees generates an estimated €1.6bn per year, 13 times more than the contribution of the honey and beeswax industry. Without pollination, crop farming profits would drop by 41 per cent on average.
A scientific study from 2017 found that the number of beneficial flying insects had fallen by 75 per cent over the past 30 years. The exact causes of bee mortality are unknown; possible causes include the use of pesticides, monotonous landscapes, lack of food sources, the loss of the natural habitat of the animals, and parasites such as the varroa mite.
The United Nations this year declared May 20 as World Bee Day to raise awareness of the important role these insects play and their sharply dwindling numbers.