World Bee Count

It’s no secret that the world’s bee population is in serious decline; with colonies and entire populations collapsing, farmers, researchers, and governments are left in a mad scramble to understand and stop the downfall. Researchers from Appalachian State University, in partnership with the data analytics company SAS, started the World Bee Count in 2018 in an effort to glean information about bee activity and count worldwide, essentially creating a global baseline for health and a platform for information and data sharing. Researchers at Appalachian State developed ways to monitor beehives through audio recordings, which can be recorded on their accompanying app. The audio recordings are then fed into a centralized machine learning algorithm, which has been taught to identify the sounds relevant to the hive of the health and background buzz. Depending on the sounds, the algorithm can determine whether the hives have a queen or not, and seeing as the loss of a queen can trigger colony collapse, being able to determine which of the hive’s audio information has been submitted are at risk of collapse can lead to early intervention. So far, there are participants in 69 countries— which take the form of researchers, citizen scientists, and beekeepers—   who participate in the annual World Bee Count Day, which takes place on May 20. However, by looking at their website, they also indicate that there is a continual stream of information being fed to the World Bee Day’s cloud-based server, like hive data on weight, temperature, humidity, and flight activity. It is not clear how this information is continuously collected since the only common tool that unites this global community of bee watchers is a mobile phone app. It also isn’t clear if all of the collected data is only open to participants or open-source (though becoming a part of the project is relatively easy and free).


Biodiversity, Citizen Science, Data, Industry/Natural Commodities, Internet of Things, Monitoring, Regulation