BEEducated Smart Sensor + Hive

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $3,910

Letter of Intent:

               This project is led by Adithi Raghavan and Annalisa Mueller-Eberstein, freshmen at UW who have been tackling the pollinator crisis for the past 3 years. In January 2021, they joined the incubator program Dubhacks Next, part of the UW RSO Dubhacks with this project. Together, Adithi and Annalisa are part of an organization called BEEducated (www.thebeeducated.org) which Adithi founded her sophomore year of high school to raise awareness about the pollinator crisis. Adithi’s journey began in 2018 when she worked with Washington Native Plant Stewards to plant a sustainable pollinator garden at Ebright Park. Inspired to teach other students about the amazing effects of bees, Adithi then created an informative mobile application in partnership with MIT App Inventor developers. From there, both Annalisa and Adithi created a launch kit with a list of steps and resources that would help other schools plant pollinator gardens at their own schools.

Now a freshman at UW, and also a Presidential Scholar who was recognized for her work with BEEducated, Adithi is looking to pursue the research route by working with a team of UW students to mitigate the effects of a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). The proposed idea is to create a low-cost BEEducated Hive Sensor for beekeepers which will increase bee health by using Computer Vision to monitor the hive condition, detect hive stressors, and alert beekeepers to intervene before colony collapse. As part of this project, they will also be developing a low-cost SMART bee hive and distributing free pollinator garden kits to underserved communities in the greater Seattle area, especially in communities prone to food deserts, to help members of these communities better engage with beekeeping and community gardening practices. By doing so, they hope to increase access to homegrown, fresh produce that the entire community can benefit from. At the core of their initiative, they hope to empower youth to work with their communities to help bees thrive once again, for every single individual on Earth is a stakeholder in the pollinator crisis. Bees are the backbone of the agricultural system. Without bees, no one would have access to a third of the food supply. Honey, apples, peppers, almonds, and so many more products would disappear.

In fact, pollinators contribute over $24 billion to the U.S. economy by pollinating 71 of the top 100 crops. However, bees have been facing declining numbers since the mid-1900s. In fact, the leading causes of death include insecticides (especially Neonicotinoids), parasites/pathogens (incl. “Varroa Mite” and “Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus”), industrial agriculture, climate change, and human mistreatment. Combined, these factors incur a phenomenon known as “Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD),” characterized by the mass departure of worker bees from a colony. At BEEducated, we’re building a hive sensor to monitor the conditions of beekeeper’s hives, analyzing photos of bee behavior to identify possible mite infestation, abnormal behavior due to insecticides, and monitor hive temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors that are possibly influencing the bees’ health (symptoms of climate change and other weather concerns). We are in the process of building a research team and engineering team while establishing partnerships with nonprofits and beekeeping organizations who will help us gather data.

Currently, we have 13 engineers, the majority of whom are UW students, working on the research and design phase of our project. Our core team includes our founder, Adithi Raghavan, Audrey Anderson (Research Lead), Tanner Poling and Andrey Risukhin (Computer Engineering Leads), Terry Jung (Electrical Engineering Lead), Mojin Yu (UX Engineering Lead), and Annalisa Mueller-Eberstein (Project Manager). With the exception of Audrey, the team leads are all based at the University of Washington.

Our timeline is the following: 

  • Now - End of April (Finalize Recruitment)
  • Now - End of June (Research & Design Phase)
  • June - August (Build Phase/Secure Additional Investments as Necessary)
  • August - January (2022) (User Testing/Refining the Product)
  • January - March (2022) (Deployment)

During the Recruitment and Research and Design Phase, we will be conducting outreach efforts by presenting virtually (and eventually in-person) to students in the Seattle School District and Lake Washington School District about establishing pollinator gardens in their own backyard or community spaces. Pollinator gardens not only provide pollinators with a safe space, but also encourage pollinators to pollinate nearby flowers in gardens. In addition to these presentations, we will also coordinate efforts with these schools to distribute free pollinator garden kits to students such that they can physically engage and learn about the gardening process. 

Our basic budget is below:

  1. $2000: Outreach and pollinator garden kit materials (incl. seeds, tools, growth medium) 
  2. $560: Technology + Licenses (incl. Google Suite Basic Plan ($360 per month); Wix ($200 per year))
  3. $1000: Honorarium for research development for Audrey Anderson
  4. $500: User Research compensation ($25 per participant)
  5. $200: Microcontrollers for the electrical engineering team
  6. $500: Additional necessary hardware components (incl. miscellaneous items for design and build)
  7. $2500: Raspberry 3 Pi Computers in beehives which will use the Google Artificial Intelligence Yourself (AIY) kit. Each kit costs about $100, implicating 25 possible beehive usage
  8. Total: $7260
Primary Contact First & Last Name: Annalisa Mueller-Eberstein