BEEducated Smart Sensor + Hive

Executive Summary:

Our project entails the creation of a SMART Hive model based off of the Langstroth Hive design and complete with sensor technologies that allow beekeepers to monitor the hive condition, detect hive stressors, and alert beekeepers to intervene before colony collapse, a deadly environmental issue that affects thousands of hives in the United States. As part of this project, we will conduct virtual and in-person workshops to teach UW students about the pollinator crisis and how to plant pollinator gardens (see our prior work with pollinator education:

Student Involvement:

We are currently wrapping up the User Research portion of our project. Our UX Team recently sent out a survey to beekeepers, receiving around 40 responses from around the world. They are now in the process of conducting interviews with these beekeepers to finalize insights for our sensor/hive model. As they complete that stage, Audrey Anderson, our principal investigator, is continuing her research into the causes for colony collapse. Her report detailing her findings will be presented by the end of June. 

Our next steps are to invest more time into the build process for a device that will run a Computer Vision algorithm to monitor the hive population/condition and contain sensors that relay data about measurable factors such as humidity or temperature back to an app such that the user can interact with their SMART Hive. As part of these next steps, the SWE (Software Engineering) team will begin building the app prototype in React Native. In order for the Electrical Engineering team to begin assembling the microcontrollers and such though, we will need the grant in order to purchase the necessary hardware. Without the grant, we will be unable to engage with the build process for the sensor and hive itself. 

If this project were to be fully funded though, we could continue with the build phase for the sensor device and physical hive prototype. To advise us on this process, we reached out to UW EE professor Shyam Gollakata who previously worked on innovative research pertaining to a sensor that could be placed on a bee to track it. He agreed to advise us on this project. We are also reaching out to pollinator research labs across the country to visit them (virtually) and gather their advice or insight for our hive design. Once we finish the build stage for both the sensor device and hive model, we intend to deploy the single SMART hive at the UW arboretum. Since the weather is not optimal during the summer and winter for planting, we cannot immediately plant a pollinator garden before introducing our hive model. Thus, we would return at a later date, early next year, to begin adding the flowers to the space. In the meantime, we would focus on our education and outreach efforts by hosting virtual workshops in the summer about the pollinator crisis and in-person workshops in the late summer/fall to introduce UW students to sustainable pollinator gardens. 

In terms of opportunities for student involvement, although we currently have a team of 8 UW students working on various research efforts within this project, we are actively looking to recruit more volunteers. Through our incubator program Dubhacks Next, we have a hiring page in order to recruit more UW students to join the project. These positions include Recruitment Coordinator, Business Team Lead/Member, Environmental Science Researcher, and SWE Lead/Member to name a few. 

Another way in which UW students can be further involved, besides our outreach efforts, is through volunteering with us to build the pollinator garden at the apiary once we reach that stage. Furthermore, once we add the bees to the hive, through a partnership with the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association, we can create a program to train UW students to become beekeepers and have them maintain the SMART hive for the foreseeable future. 

To track student involvement, we will have volunteers and workshop participants fill out brief surveys to keep a record of their participation.

Education & Outreach:

Our outreach/education goals include teaching at least 100 UW students from the general student population about the importance of pollinators via virtual workshops, leading at least 2 in-person pollinator garden planting sessions at local parks with at least 20 UW students in attendance, and distributing at least 20 seed packets of a PNW pollinator-friendly seed mix to UW students who would like to start their own sustainable pollinator garden. 

To advertise this event, we will coordinate with professors we have previously contacted for their support to present to their classes about the project. Moreover, we will also email other professors in the Chemistry, Psychology, and Biology departments who may have students interested in learning more about bees. 

To expand our reach, we will create events for the Pollinator Garden Planting Sessions (In-Person Workshops) where we will present an informative guide on how to create a sustainable pollinator garden (BEEducated_ Launch Kit for Community.pptx). By communicating with public relations departments, we can post about our project and workshops soon after acquiring funding to promote our outreach efforts. We will also draft up a press release to facilitate the coordination process with the PR department. 

Finally, to take advantage of other resources and communication channels UW students are likely to use, we will make a post on the UW Reddit as well as send in similar press release blurbs and photographs to Smirk and The Daily to both recruit volunteers and share information on the project. We will also create informational flyers (PgK Flyer_Check-In.pdf)  that could potentially be distributed through the residence halls.

To measure the impact of our efforts, we intend to have all student participants fill out a survey after each virtual workshop and in-person gardening session. We will also have students who take home a set of pollinator-friendly seeds to build their own pollinator garden fill out this form that documents the progress of their garden: .

Environmental Impact:
  • Living Systems and Biodiversity
Project Longevity:

A beehive itself has the most longevity and can last for up to 100 years, the microcontroller is likely the first to fail and will need to be replaced every roughly five years. To ensure it will remain in use, we will be working with the PSBA (Puget Sound Beekeepers) as well as other UW student volunteers who may be interested in learning about bees or beekeeping. Once in place, the hive should need minimal maintenance and funding. There will also be the oppurtunity to fit other beehives in the area with similar sensors and equipment.

Environmental Problem:

Bees are a vital part of our agricultural and economic systems, as they pollinate 71 of the top 100 food crops—about 90% of the world’s nutrition. However, due to a combination of factors such as parasites/pathogens, pesticides, climate change, and human mistreatment, hives in the U.S. have faced the threat of colony collapse (“Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD)) which is characterized by the mass departure of worker bees from a colony, effectively leaving the hive to die out. Based on recent studies, CCD affects sites with fewer than 5 hives at a rate of 14-17% in the U.S., resulting in the loss of thousands of hives and reduced crop viability/value. Moreover, since the pollination from bees enables genetic diversity and food production, it’s clear that bees remain a vital part of our ecosystem as they preserve nature’s biodiversity. 

For our project, we’re building a SMART Hive complete with sensor capabilities that help beekeepers monitor the conditions of their hives, be it through analyzing photos of bee behavior to identify possible mite infestation, identifying abnormal behavior due to insecticides, or even simply monitoring the hive’s temperature. These, along with various other environmental factors that influence the bees’ health (symptoms of climate change and other weather concerns) pose serious concerns for beekeepers. 

By establishing a partnership with the Puget Sound Beekeepers Association (PSBA) through David Zuckerman, we hope that the PSBA will sponsor our project at the UW Arboretum’s apiary (an apiary that PSBA maintains) since it is not in an enclosed area to access and it already has a public outreach component on beekeeping. Originally, we had hoped to install our SMART Hive at the UW Farm, however, installing a hive there is not possible due to public liability and safety concerns. Hence, we will focus on deploying our hive at the apiary in the UW Arboretum and work with David Zuckerman (Manager of Horticulture) to fulfill the necessary approval process. 

Without bees it will be very difficult to maintain current food production and levels of biodiversity. Thus, the BEEducated project will mitigate the likelihood of colony collapse occurring by providing beekeepers with an affordable and efficient method to track the conditions of their hives

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

There are two main ways the impacts can be measured, the students involved and the condition of the bees. The measurement of student involvement is relatively simple with counting and occasional brief surveys. The condition of the bees and ease of use is something a little more difficult to measure, but the plan involves user experience surveys as well as collecting data about the conditions of the hive to extrapolate useful information concerning the bees’ numbers and health.

Total amount requested from the CSF: $3,910
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


Budget Breakdown with items and purpose
ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Technology + Licenses5601560
Research Honorarium100011000
User Research Compensation2520500
DHT 11 Sensor5420
Electret Sensor1.501015
Raspberry 3 Pi1002200
Additional Hardware/Software Componenets3001300
Wood Slabs1001100
Package Honey Bees2001200
Hive Tool15115
Bee Brush10110
Bee Smoker40140
Seed Packets250100
Printing Educational Flyers50150

Non-CSF Sources:

Project Completion Total: $3,910


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Recruitment3 weeksEnd of May
Community Partnerships3 monthsAugust
Flyers + Digital Materials2 weeksJune
Complete training a model to ID varroa mite2 monthsJuly
Select cloud service2 weeksJune
Core Experience1 monthJuly
Conduct virtual pollinator crisis education workshops and recruitment of volunteers2 weeksJuly
Implement sensors into hive design1 monthAugust
Design and Implement Secondary Items1 monthAugust
Usability Study2 weeksAugust
Improving Models4 monthsOctober
Host in-person sustainable pollinator garden workshops highlighting other sustainable points on campus1 weekSeptember
User testing and further design iterations5 monthsOctober

Project Approval Forms: