BeesMAX and Arnia collaborate on new educational initiative

A major environmental problem facing Europe today is the decline of the honey bee.

BeesMAX is a company that plans to tackle this. Through the use of their Blue Box Rehoming Scheme, they aim to provide depleted wild colonies with a new habitat in which the bees can reorganise and restructure. As well as placing these in woodland areas, they also offer schools and businesses the opportunity to install hives on their sites.

Arnia, similarly, is a company concerned with bee health, but from a more technical standpoint. They have developed technology that goes into a hive and records data that is sent back to the beekeeper. Sensors are fitted inside the hive in order to monitor the colony’s behaviour and these statistics are then sent, via a gateway, to the user’s devices, allowing them to better understand their own bees. The data collected can be compared across different hives using the same technology.

After working together, both companies have decided to enter an official partnership, with BeesMAX using Arnia technology in their rehoming scheme. This opens up a whole world of educational opportunities and provides a more in-depth experience.

I recently spoke with Mark Gale, founder of BeesMAX, about the partnership and what it means for both companies moving forward.

What is the BeesMAX rehoming scheme?
“It’s a regeneration and renewal project for bee colonies. BeesMAX rehoming bees into the wild was the original idea and then six months down the road it’s morphed into working with schools. They can help by potentially hosting the hives on their grounds, or if they haven’t got the space, they can rehome them into the Country Land and Business Association’s locations that have been volunteered.”

How has the Arnia Technology already helped?
“Arnia is the principal reason for the schools taking part because without their technology, the only way schools can get involved with bees is the way they’ve done it for the last fifty years – to put the hat and gloves on, take the top off and have a look to see what’s going on. It would be very much down to the expertise of your local beekeeper to say what’s happening. We call it a ‘poke and hope’ way of doing things, which is archaic. This is moving it into the digital age and online. It’s a revolutionary change.”

So why Arnia? There must be other companies with similar technology?
“Without the Arnia system, we wouldn’t exist in the same way at all. The Arnia system is unique in combining colony acoustics monitoring with brood temperature, hive humidity, hive weight and apiary weather to provide detailed insight into hive conditions and bee behaviour. No other system provides this richness of data. Also Arnia is a UK business; the technology is developed and manufactured in the UK. BeesMax is also keen to promote British business.”

How does this partnership benefit both companies and the rehoming scheme in general?
“Arnia already have connections with the British Beekeeper’s Association (BBKA) and have been working with some schools in the North East of England, but they haven’t really gone UK wide and they haven’t had access to the independent sector, which is where BeesMAX is focusing on at the moment. The BBKA haven’t actually taken them on as their chosen platform so we are helping to build their presence with our partnership.”

“From the point of view of BeesMAX, Arnia provide the complete range of services. The other European companies haven’t caught up yet as Arnia was the first in the field. No one has really taken it on to share the data with the educational establishments yet and that’s what gives us an advantage with our rehoming scheme.”

Finally, what are your hopes for the future with this joint venture?
“We aim to have 1000 schools on the system either watching data or hosting hives across both the state and independent sectors. Schools can become the custodians of a vast hive network across the country. If all the bees die out in the wild due to pollution, the only people who are going to have any left are the schools, and they’ll breed a new generation of eco warriors and environmentalists to keep on fighting.”

Authored by Sarah Austwick