A new crowdfunding project aims to put the power to fight colony collapse disorder in the hands of everyday people. Now, anyone can log on and download a simple design for their own internet-connected beehive. These hives do more than provide a home for local bee populations — they also give scientists new tools to monitor global bee health using specialized sensors which track geolocation, humidity, temperature, bee numbers, and even the mood of the colony. The hope is that being able to crowdsource this data will help scientists better understand why bees are declining and how to protect them.
The Open Source Beehives project is headed by a team of technologists, ecologists, and bee experts based in Denver, Barcelona, and Brussels. The unique hives they’ve developed are very different from your typical industrial hive, which is built to maximize honey production without any concern for the health of the colony. The open source hives are created specifically to create a low-stress environment that allows bees to thrive. Not only that, but the beehives themselves have a small eco footprint; it takes just one 4’x8’ sheet of wood to cut all the parts.
After being unveiled to the world at the Denver co-working hub Green Spaces, Open Source Beehives officially launched on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, where supporters can receive instructions to build their own high-tech hive for $15, or buy a a premade kit for $280. For apartment-dwellers or those who live in areas where urban beekeeping is frowned upon, you can also support the project by purchasing a miniature model beehive or “adopting” a beehive in Denver or Barcelona. (The team will even send you personal email updates about how your bees are doing!) Since its launch just one day ago, the project has raised nearly $1,000. There’s still quite a way to go — the project aims to reach $20,000 in the next 30 days.