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Reporting period: 2020-04-01 to 2021-09-30

The HIVEOPOLIS project is developing a novel paradigm by creating new forms of interaction between nature and human society. Our research methodology will boost our society through a trans-disciplinary understanding of the interactions among technology, society, economy, ecology and organismic physiology. We aim to demonstrate this novel paradigm in a high-impact scenario that is of very high economic, ecological and societal relevance: honeybees. This industrial-scale producer of honey, wax and propolis is also a keystone species in many important ecosystems. The food industry strongly depends on a crucial ecosystem service provided by honeybees: pollination. In the last decades, technological and societal developments have harmed honeybees in multiple ways, endangering their very existence in Europe recently. In HIVEOPOLIS, we employ a novel paradigm to augment honeybee colonies with technology that, when immersed into the socio-ecological fabric of these super-organisms and their habitats, can enhance the capabilities of these colonies and allow them to better cope with anthropogenic threats that they cannot adapt to through biological evolution. Moreover, we plan to equip these innovative bio-hybrid artifacts made of bees and robotic elements to scale up to higher organizational units (“super colonies”) that will become integral parts of our future societies. Our approach will enable novel "use cases": (1) innovative high-precision industrial beekeeping (2) smart environmental monitoring facilitated by honey bees in our future smart cities and (3) emerging communities of "lifestyle beekeepers". Applying our novel paradigm will allow these stakeholders (and others) to build up a large, maybe global community that interacts, shares and even trades data and "living programs" they individually collect and develop with their local bio-hybrid HIVEOPOLIS units.

The main objectives of HIVEOPOLIS are:
1. Develop a technologically-augmented future beehive that supports the well-being and survival of bees in harsh, industrialized and urbanized conditions.
2. Increase the environmental value of these beehives by providing a focused and controllable ecosystem service, coordinated between local hives, having specific optimization goals (pollination service, optimal food distribution).
3.Promote futuristic beekeeping and the associated technologies to emerging communities, including teaching STEM topics.
During the first year the consortium explored methodologies and approaches, and established several initial prototypes for components of the smart-hives. These work processes included rethinking the architecture of the hive, the potential for growing hives from novel materials, how to control the bees’ access to specific areas of their hives, designing and constructing new robotic devices to interact with dancing bees, and designing and testing systems to perform detailed measurements and modulations of the brood nest. In addition, initial mathematical models for understanding elements at scales ranging from individual colonies to locating apiaries are being developed and studied.

During the second reporting period significant progress was made toward the project's objectives. We investigated a biotechnological construction method for the hive and tested different topological prototypes. We developed a prototype of the central core and investigated bee traffic observation and modulation within the hive. We developed key components for the foraging modulation and new prototype iterations of the brood nest module. Models to assess brood nest metrics and models that allow for long term predictions about the heath status were developed. Other models allow for determining the optimal number of colonies in a specific geographical region. Infrastructure for hive coordination (data exchange, model driven decision-making and optimization) was also developed. The project was disseminated to the public and scientific communities by various channels.
Our proposed HIVEOPOLIS system goes way beyond a simple sensor network or a conventional “smart hive”. We will not only be able to monitor environmental and hive conditions and the health status of the colonies, but also be able to pass the information on to the beekeeper. Based on this, these stakeholders then can decide whether or not to take action. Our bio-hybrid HIVEOPOLIS system will be able to take counter-measurements in real time. It will facilitate the well-being of the bees in anthropogenic environments) and climatically challenging environments that bees are already struggling with.
The applied technology will directly support the bees, e.g. by providing them novel information sources, like computer models and weather forecasts. Our concept of using high-tech electronics to reinforce and amplify existing abilities of animals, to exploit their trades in order to intervene in ecosystems, to stabilize them and to use the animals as qualitative measuring instruments of the state of an ecosystem and finally to create feedback loops between the animals, the ecosystem and human society to fuse them into one acting entity is absolutely novel and highly ambitious. We demonstrate a fundamentally novel form of interaction between nature and human society based on bio-hybrid technology, while we gain knowledge by impactful research. Our research is not limited to ecology, biology, and ethology. We also research novel concepts in material engineering and in mechatronic engineering to successfully interact with thousands of very small animals in a very confined space.

HIVEOPOLIS will integrate innovations, including novel sensors and bee colony data sources, modeling of bee behavior and data analytics models for better insights and optimal decision-making and actuation, for effective management of apiaries.
● We expect high future return, not only from a direct economic point of view, but also from promoting knowledge and awareness of ecosystem processes amongst the youth, as well as future returns from collecting large scale ecological data.
● Our project is inherently international and our dissemination and exploitation activities include a rich set of international activities, in order to spread excellence and build up leading capacity across Europe.
● Our project plans researching novel technologies that will promote several goal-oriented communities: three scales of beekeeping, farming, ecologists, makers, teachers, and technology producers.
● Given the groundbreaking approach of the technology we employ in a high-impact and large-scale economy-relevant field of application, we expect an innovation ecosystem to emerge from and within the widely addressed community of stakeholders and interest groups.

We are convinced that economies in rural areas and cities in Europe can be enhanced by bringing affordable and open-source ICT solutions into agriculture. In combination with experience and competence from local stakeholders, it can bring benefits to rural areas by increasing quality, volume and understanding of food production and improving farming activities by social cohesion and livelihoods, being attractive for young people, fostering future innovation and may mitigate rural brain drain. In this context, HIVEOPOLIS addresses future and emerging technologies by developing a new line of technology through collaboration between advanced multidisciplinary science and engineering participants.
Concept of the HIVEOPLIS beehive