Greece is a beekeeping country par excellence, with a centuries-old tradition in beekeeping that is due to its excellent beekeeping flora, but also to the favorable climatic conditions. In addition, the existence of healthy bee populations is of particular environmental and economic importance since 1/3 of the plant foods that end up on consumers' plates depend on their pollination. The contribution of bees to plant pollination is valued at €265 billion per year, as 84% of cultivated plants need the bee for pollination, while 80% of wild vegetation supports its existence on them. And this, since a single bee can pollinate up to 500,000 flowers a day. In general, bees, considered the most important insects from an economic point of view for humans, participate directly or indirectly in the 15-30% of food production, while they are the custodians and protectors of biodiversity as through pollination the ecosystem is maintained and reproduced.
Despite this, in recent years there has been a decline in the populations of bees and other pollinating insects, which is due to various factors such as climate change, environmental disasters, the use of pesticides, etc. The European Community has been making systematic efforts in recent years to study the phenomenon, understand the causes and reverse the situation. Unfortunately, recent relevant research concludes that the phenomenon is complex and there is a significant lack of knowledge. In Greece in particular, the reduction of the bee population in recent years is dramatic and the losses during the winter months, according to the Federation of Beekeeping Associations of Greece, even reach 40%. In addition, the sector also faces problems from endogenous factors (introversion, financial crisis, lack of modernization of production). A characteristic feature of professional Greek beekeeping is the continuous and long-distance movements of the bees. Adverse weather conditions force beekeepers to move the hives to ensure the growth and survival of the bees, but also to increase production. This process increases the cost of running an apiary. Today metaphors are based on experience or hearsay, with the result that they are often inaccurate. The ability to systematically locate beekeeping plants during their flowering period will greatly reduce costs and travel time.
The SmartBeeKeep project aspires to take advantage of modern developments in Information and Communication technologies by adopting a holistic approach that will try to answer the above problems by providing an innovative platform that will serve beekeeping activity and research. The main objectives are: (a) to provide tools for participatory mapping of beekeeping flora and study of local biodiversity, while for selected plant species the approximate estimation of flowering time at an early stage will be investigated, (b) to provide new innovative facilities and services to the beekeeping community (beekeepers, analysis laboratories and beekeeping researchers) and (c) the evaluation of applications through a pilot application to demonstrate that local biodiversity in combination with "smart" beekeeping leads to high value-added products and resource savings management and production.
The ambition of the cooperative scheme is to exploit the platform through a low-cost subscription service that will "intelligently" manage a wealth of data and patterns, providing significant advantages to its users and contributing significantly to the study of biodiversity. In addition, the creation of an innovative online store that draws data from the platform and is the first step to establish a new way of "pairing" producers with end consumers (without intermediaries) to give the opportunity to the end consumer to finance and to actively participate in all stages for the production of a specific product that interests him (e-beekeeping).