Greece is a predominantly beekeeping country, with a long tradition in beekeeping 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 the plate of consumers depend on their pollination. The contribution of bees to plant pollination is estimated at 265 billion euros per year, as 84% of the cultivated plants need the bee for pollination, while 80% of the wild vegetation supports its existence in them. This is because a single beehive can pollinate up to 500,000 flowers a day. In general, bees, which are considered the most important insects from a financial point of view for humans, participate directly or indirectly in 15-30% of food production, while they are the custodians and protectors of biodiversity as through pollination the ecosystem is preserved and reproduced.
However, in recent years there has been a decline in populations of bees and other pollinating insects, due to various factors such as climate change, environmental disasters, pesticide use, 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 research concludes that the phenomenon is complex and there is a significant lack of knowledge. Especially in Greece, 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 industry faces problems from endogenous factors (introversion, economic crisis, lack of modernization of production). A characteristic feature of professional Greek beekeeping is the continuous and long-distance movements of bees. Adverse weather conditions force beekeepers to move the hives to ensure the growth and survival of bees, but also to increase production. This process increases the management costs of an apiary. Today, transportation is based on experience or rumors, with the result that it is often misplaced. 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) the provision of tools for the participatory mapping of beekeeping flora and the study of local biodiversity, while for selected plant species the approximate estimation of flowering time at an early stage will be investigated, (b) the provision of new innovative facilities and beekeeping community services (beekeepers, analysis laboratories and beekeeping researchers) and (c) evaluation of applications through a pilot application to demonstrate that local biodiversity combined with “smart” beekeeping leads to high value-added products and savings management and production.
The ambition of the collaborative scheme is to exploit the platform through a low-cost subscription service that will “intelligently” manage a wealth of data and standards, providing significant benefits to its users and contributing significantly to the study of biodiversity. In addition, the creation of an innovative online store that draws on data from the platform and is the first step in establishing a new way of “pairing” producers with end consumers (without intermediaries), to give the end consumer the opportunity to finance and to actively participate in all stages for the production of a specific product that interests him (e-beekeeping).