Bee Diversity: Artificial intelligence against bees and pesticides

May 20, 2022, World Bee Day, this start-up is hard to miss. He is currently attending the ChangeNOW show dedicated to environmental change (from 19 to 21 May in Paris). BeeOdiversity is a Belgian company that, since 2014, uses bees to monitor biodiversity and pollution levels in specific areas. This biological surveillance, or observation of the environment by bees, was conceived by Dr. Bach Kim Nguyen, co-founder of BeeOdiversity.

His idea was to analyze the pollen transported by these insects to determine the quality of the surrounding ecosystem. “Bees settle on flowers, WE DEMAIN Details by Michael Van Cutsem, co-founder of BeeOdiversity. When they come in contact with flowers, small pollen grains get stuck in their hair and legs. Little by little the bees will collect these small grains and keep them in the shape of a ball. Our idea isNo. Collect a sample when they return to the colony and then analyze this pollen. “

Pollen is an important indicator of the state of biodiversity

“Bees are more like natural drones that cross an area, Michael Van Cutsem added. And pollen reveals unique information: each grain of pollen matches a plant species. So we can estimate the diversity of plants. But which pesticides are used to determine the level of pollution in the sector and in what proportions. ”

The bee variety cannot detect less than 500 different pesticides. Once analyzed, it makes it possible to work to limit the impact on the planet. “Our clients are companies, public institutions or municipalities. They wantOn the one hand learn about the impact of their activity in the neighborhood to be able to change their production process. On the other hand, it helps to identify potential contaminants to protect the quality of life or their activities. “Details Michael Van Cutsem.

These installations, known as beeOtels, make it possible for bees to collect some pollen brought back from their vicinity. Photo: BeeOdiversity.

Bees are helped by Microsoft and its artificial intelligence

To complete its analysis, BeeOdiversity collaborates with Microsoft through its ShareIA program that supports social entrepreneurs. “We provide our knowledge with their artificial intelligence so that the results obtained can be extrapolated and the sources of contamination can be identified more precisely.”, Explained Enrique Lopez, director of artificial intelligence at Microsoft France. For example, a company specializing in water is interested in finding out the quality of the soil around it. This is because if groundwater and waterways become polluted it will have a direct impact on its activity.

By discovering the level of pollution and what pesticides are present for bees, it is possible to determine the source of soil pollution. Similarly, artificial intelligence can extrapolate data to identify risky areas based on water flow. Depending on the pesticides used, one can identify the crop and therefore find out which areas are likely to be problematic.

“This predictive tool, based on artificial intelligence, is still under development. It takes a lot of data to make sure the algorithm will work well and be reliable. It’s a long learner and you have to consider a lot of parameters to get it, “said Enrique Lopez. Yet the start-up plans to deliver the first of its kind in Belgium and France in 2023.

Read more: Photos – When the bee arouses the curiosity of Charlotte Abrams

Disclose pollution levels and change habits

“Farmers are demanding this data because they often do not know what effect their phytosanitary treatment has on the soil.Michael Van Katsem notes. The goal, in turn, is to help them change their habits to establish less harmful processes. For example, we can help them make biological changes. “

By 2021, bees of bee diversity have identified less than 150 different pesticides used on sites thus analyzed. “In many cases the levels were above the approved European level. EWe have identified 25 to 30 officially banned pesticides. “Co-founder reveals.

After collecting the pollen samples, they are analyzed in the laboratory.  Photo: BeeOdiversity.
After collecting the pollen samples, they are analyzed in the laboratory. Photo: BeeOdiversity.

Real improvement after awareness

Thanks to the information collected and analyzed, the community, business and farmers then take steps to rectify the situation and reduce pollution drastically for the regeneration of biodiversity. BeeOdiversity thus works with the Belgian city of Knokke-Heist.

“With 8 years of cooperation, we have been able to change the ecosystem. We have seen a 400% increase in biodiversity by local farmers switching to organic or regenerative methods. “Michael Van Cutsem says.

50 million bees employed by BeeOdiversity

Extremely encouraging results that inspire 18-employee start-ups to step up their efforts. It already monitors a total area of ​​100,000 hectares with the help of one hundred beekeepers (and 50 million bees). The latter are also very interested in BeeOdiversity solutions.

In fact, on average, a beekeeper loses 30% of its colony. With measures taken to track pollutants and improve biodiversity, losses typically drop to 7%. Undoubtedly, this positive impact project makes a difference, one bee after another.

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