Stella Marie Felsinger
Industrial agriculture depends on commercial honeybee pollination. Honeybees are already under pressure from parasites, pesticides and predators like the Asian Hornet, and when deployed in monocrop settings like almond orchards, these stressors can be compounded by a lack of nutritional variety. Combined with unforeseen pollen or nectar dearths, food stress can be a major contributor to colony failure, creating a need for supplemental feeding. When commercial beekeepers may oversee thousands of colonies, knowing which of them need to be fed can save a lot of time, and targeted feeding can improve colony survival. My aim is to identify measurable signs that a honeybee colony is starting to starve or is suffering from malnutrition. To understand honeybee starvation in depth, I am looking at the effects of starvation and malnutrition on individual bees, small groups of bees, and whole colonies using hive monitoring equipment provided by our industrial partners BeeHero and Canetis, in conjunction with other sensors. I will analyse this multifaceted dataset using machine learning and time series approaches to identify signatures of a colony’s nutritional state. My hope is to improve the welfare and survival of commercially managed honeybee colonies and to support beekeepers to raise healthy, strong colonies.