Moo-ve over connected cows, the internet of bees is here

Lynsey Barber
Follow Lynsey
Internet of Things technology is creating a buzz

A new project is aiming to bring bees online by putting them in tiny “backpacks” so that scientists can track the threatened insect’s behaviour and help its survival.

Bees in Manchester initially will be connected to the internet using technology from Cisco to help researchers track their migration, pollination and movement, and eventually, across the UK.

Sensors in hives located at a new 70,000 sq ft tech accelerator hub in the northern city called Mi-Idea, will measure the bee environment such as temperature, while the bees themselves will be tagged with RFID chips that look like tiny backpacks.

Read more: Soon the Internet of Things will be able to predict elections

All the information will be collected and made available to track online giving insight on their habitats, with the bees even providing “status updates” (albeit automated) on their whereabouts.

Cisco is working on the project with the Manchester Science Partnership (MSP) and the hub is already home to six startups: Hark, an IoT data company, video platform Wattl, location data analytics startup PlaceDashboard, Steamaco, an energy technology company, IOT platform KMS and software firm Malinko.

“Innovation is fundamental to the future of any digital economy, but it cannot prosper in isolation. Mi-IDEA is a hive of co-innovation, fostering collaboration between industry, government and academia; we’re excited for what it will bring to Manchester and look forward to seeing the start-ups at the centre flourish as we expand our relationship with MSP in this new venture,” said chief executive of Cisco in the UK and Ireland Scot Gardner.

Read more: Connected cows: An actually useful example of the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) might get a bad rap for connecting everyday things (toothbrushes, vases, toilets) to the web for no reason, but its just the latest example of how its being usefully applied in the animal world.

Seals in Scotland have been fitted with what might look like small hats, but are in fact also machine-to-machine devices from Vodafone that can follow their movements and Sharks are also being followed in such a manner - even tweeting their locations.

And in London, pigeons in tech backpacks have been used to monitor air pollution around the capital, while cows are being connected to the internet so that farmers can keep an eye on herds from afar.

Related articles