"If technology can play a role in protecting this amazing species then we need to embrace it before it's too late." Ian Cane - Beekeeper
This will be a very short post because fundamentally I want you to watch a video which will tell you everything much better than I.
The impetus for the post was noticing, the other day, some new honey on the supermarket shelves - B Honey, and then when I started looking through the online version of the Coles Magazine today, I noticd this ad.
As an aside I am looking at it online because I have already missed it in the shops or it hasn't come out yet, and I was completely out of inspiration today. And incidentally I have missed the Woolworths magazine too, but that is not available online. Well not as far as I can see anyway.
The packaging for the honey is very classy and the name is intriguing (and clever) too. The name comes from Bega, because Bega is part of the impetus for the project - or at least part of the investment. Maybe, indeed, the prime mover.
Before I get into that - the problem - as you probably know - is Varroa Destrctor - a parasitic mite that has destroyed bee populations everywhere in the inhabited world except Australia, which has so far been able to stay free of it. There was a scare in 2018 when an infected hive made it to the Port of Melbourne, but fortunately no further and no bees escaped. But it is in New Zealand and also Papua New Guinea. Everywhere in fact. And we all know the importance of bees
Now Bega the cheesemakers have recently moved into food by buying up Heinz vegemite and peanut butter. They have now decided on honey but were aware of the problem. Enter two young Australian techies who had worked on the Mars Rover who have devised what is basically a tiny, immensely fast camera which snaps every bee as it enters the hive. AI tracks it and sends out an alarm if the mite is spotted. And so the Purple Hive Project was set up. Now I don't know if the two young men, Vignesh Murugan and Joel Kuperholz thought of the idea or were commissioned by Bega to solve it. I'm sure they will get masses out of it anyway.
Purple was chosen as the colour because bees are attracted to it. The plan is to set up detector hives at all the ports around Australia. In Victoria they will be set up in Melbourne, Geelong, Hastings and Portland. Government is also involved - at least in Victoria, so I guess it's possible that they started it all. Whoever did - well done I say.
Obviously the aim is to get beekeepers to use these hives as well, so I'm guessing huge amounts of money can be made out of this. If it works, surely the whole world will be on to it. So a canny move by Bega - or Vignesh and Joel or the government. Being one of those people who is a sucker for appearance, I very nearly bought some of the honey because it looked so beautiful and now that I know the story I'm quite prepared to put my money towards something so fantastic, even if it does cost a little more than the basic honey. Is Beechworth going to join in I wonder? In fact there are a whole lot of questions re the money behind it all and I'm sure the lawyers are on to it.
The detector only does that - detects. It does not kill the mite, but an alarm is set off immediately if the mite is detected, so that the hive can be immediately isolated and quarantined.
Anyway watch the video. I find this pretty awe-inspiring. It gives me hope that the world will survive. Industry and the enthusiastic techies of this world will see to it.