BEEPOLL: Developing land vegetation patterns through earth observation and Artificial Intelligence to optimise beekeeping and pollination measures

Animal pollination plays a crucial role in global food production, with an estimated 5–8% of current global crop production, valued at $235 billion–$577 billion (in 2015) worldwide, directly attributable to animal pollination. Over 75% of the world's leading food crops and nearly 90% of the world's flowering plants rely to some extent on animal pollination. Pollinator-dependent crops account for 35% of global crop production volume (IPBES, 2016).

The Malta Council for Science and Technology's Space Fund 2022 BEEPOLL project will develop online tools to help national authorities and land managers identify optimal honeybee translocation sites, building on successful prototype testing in Malta. The project will address multifaceted challenges, including segmenting local vegetation dynamics via remote sensing using Sentinel 2 and Plaedias imagery and 2D neural networks to identify floral resources for honeybees and wild bees. Additionally, it will integrate Internet-of-Things (IoT) logging sensors, software, and on-site field surveys to monitor the abundance and diversity of managed and wild bees. BEEPOLL will combine remote sensing insights with bee analyses to assess pollination demand and supply across seasons. The project is poised to enhance pollinator conservation strategies and advance our understanding of these intricate ecosystems.

By conducting this research, we are gaining vital information about the species of flowers favoured by honeybees and a wider range of wild pollinators.

Objectives, actions and expected results

Combine drone and satellite images for habitat assessment

Combine drone and satellite images to map habitat and floral resources at high resolution

Use IoT to monitor bee health across a landscape gradient

Use Internet of Things (IoT) technology  to evaluate the impact of habitat and intra-/interspecific interactions on honey bee health

Develop GIS cloud with species distribution models

Develop GIS cloud map displaying the species distribution models, interactions between managed and wild bees, and pollination ecosystem service

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BEEPOLL is funded by the Malta Council of Science and Technology Space Research Fund