The island's beekeepers and their government see in technology the opportunity to bring a new impetus to the sector. With the "Precision Beekeeping 2020" project they are signing the first spanish initiative at this scale.
Menorca honey is highly appreciated and often awarded for its exceptional qualities and characteristics. So much that on the island, beekeepers have small effort to place their production well before the harvest. And yet the sector is facing the same threats as elsewhere. Even worse, theyr are facing two additional constraints: insularity, which prevents any transhumance, and climate change, which is very marked in the Mediterranean. As a result, beekeepers must be more vigilant and strictly minimize risks.
Beekeepers are fully aware of these risks. As their president Bernat Cardona expressed it during the press conference launching the project, "we must provide more work for an ever more limited production". From this observation they understand that only a technological breakthrough could provide new room for improvement.||Antoni Anglada, professional beekeeper and manager of the Dolçamar honey brand, also sees precision beekeeping as a tool that can facilitate his transition to organic beekeeping. As he points out, the exceptional product produced on the island must also be perfect in terms of production methods.
The administration is also sensitive to the risks that not only overhang the honey supply chain. But also pollination services and ecosystem sustainability. Minorca was classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993. The Counselor for Economy and Territory, Miquel Company bets on the alliance between technology, innovation, economy and ecology, to provide concrete solutions.
Eight apiaries spread over the island
With this alliance of actors, wills and visions kicks the "Precision Beekeeping 2020" project. First initiative of its kind in Spain. In the first phase of the project, four beekeepers will equip 150 connected hives spread over the island's different biotypes.
The objective is straight forward: to improve operations and reduce non-value. In other words, it is about improving operations and reducing mortality through more efficient apiaries management.
Real-time monitoring technology will allow beekeepers to have accurate information at all times.
This information concerns the current state of the apiary but also the 5-day evolution forecasts. The models developed by Mellisphera, inspired by the aeronautical world, must provide beekeepers with first-hand decision-making information.
A training plan
In addition to the technological aspect, the project also includes a training plan. Precision beekeeping is not a simple digitization of practices; it is a new paradigm. To obtain maximum benefit from it, the beekeeper must be able to analyse the information provided. This is why training is essential to establish these new practices. In fact, we at Mellisphera continue to learn every day from the data we analyze. In short, the adoption of these new practices requires a well thought-out and structured training plan. As an example, the training session we provided at the Chamber of Agriculture in Pau last summer, enabled us to structure the content for the first time.
An essential database
In addition to training, Mellisphera's engineers will provide technical support to beekeepers by systematically monitoring the colonies. It is a real team effort to characterize the behaviour of the colonies with regard to all the information collected.
We also aim to improve our models. Indeed, this database will allow us to enrich the MBLM* algorithm. This model, developed on an oceanic/continental climate, will be extended to the specificities of the Mediterranean climate and bees.
A major challenge
In all respects, this project will contribute to achieving Mellisphera's ambition: to reduce the mortality rate of connected hives to 10%, while increasing the productive hive rate from 50% to 70%. These are objectives that stimulate our creativity and commitment. We know how much the industry needs it. We are delighted to be able to lead this fight alongside committed and visionary beekeepers.
... and a nod to history
Beekeepers in Menorca also have an ambition that links them to their history. In 1885 Francesc Andreu Femenias introduced the first modern hives in Menorca. As a result, this new technology positioned Menorca as a pioneer in modern beekeeping in Spain.
135 years later, the island's beekeepers and their administration are once again betting on technology to boost the sector to the highest level.