Melbourne port was selected for the first purple beehives because the main threat from Varroa destroyers to Australia is via cargo ships, where infested bees from overseas could be housed between shipping containers.
An accomplished sea captain who noticed a swarm of bees in 2018 and alerted the Victorian government prevented an outbreak of the pest.
A worker at Agriculture Victoria prepares to transfer bees to their new beehive.Recognition:Joe Armao
Earlier this month, Woolworths posted pictures of what their shelves would look like without bees. Apples, avocados, rapeseed oil, nuts, coffee beans and strawberries were on the menu. And you guessed it, honey too.
The Melbourne startup Vimana Tech and the Sydney and Silicon Valley-based startup Xailient worked on what is known as the world’s first technology for over a year.
Shivy Yohanandan, Xailient’s chief technology officer, said artificial intelligence acts like a human’s eyes and completes the 24/7 work that a beekeeper realistically cannot.
“The way we teach a child, we’ve trained the algorithm, and over time, like any AI, it just keeps getting better,” he said.
When the algorithm detects a Varroa destructor in Melbourne, farm workers are notified to take a sample, test it, and take action if necessary. As with a virus, early detection can prevent the pest from spreading widely.
The harmony of artificial intelligence and agriculture is expected to grow exponentially – in recent years it has been used to predict weather conditions, assess plant nutrition on farms, and identify weeds.
Joel Kuperholz, co-founder of Vimana Tech, said his team is also looking to move forward in beekeeping.
“We have the ability to upload new algorithms to detect other anomaly or other pests or insects that might try to invade the hive and pose a risk,” he said.
Deformed bees due to Varroa parasitism
Mr. Cane, whose family has been breeding bees in Victoria for more than 100 years, said his “head is turning” about what other efficiencies technology could bring to his industry.
“It will really change the way we work as beekeepers,” he said.
“We are currently preparing beehives for pollination of almonds, this is a multi-billion dollar agricultural industry in Australia. Without honey bees, the world would be a completely different place for humans. “
Victorian Agriculture Secretary Mary-Anne Thomas called the beehives the front line in helping Australia’s 12,800 beekeepers.
“We know the varroa mite is already in New Zealand and we are working very hard to keep it from invading Victoria,” she said.
“I would look forward to a project like the purple beehive that is being rolled out across the country.”