Smart Bee: Chinese Invest in Croatian Smart Beekeeping Scale Production

Lauren Simmonds

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As Poslovni Dnevnik/Suzana Varosanec writes, the best innovation of the Agro Arca 2021 fair is the unique Croatian Smart Bee Scale – Smart Bee, by Matija Hrzic. This electrical engineer from Samobor is on the verge of the commercialisation of Smart Bee.

27-year-old Hrzic began with Smart Bee’s initial development through several phases back in 2016, while the start of production is expected by the end of the year. According to Hrzic, this will mean the production of the first Croatian smart beekeeping scale with advanced technologies integrated, within the framework of cooperation with a Chinese partner, which would be finalised in Croatia. An investment of around 50,000 euros is planned for the start.

Here on the Croatian market, no one produces electronic boards or measuring cells for beekeeping, while China as a mega power in this specialised niche is a logical choice for cooperation, because the price competitiveness of innovative scales can be readily achieved. The goal is to first cover the needs of Croatia and the immediate region, but as the production and sales price is many times lower, and with the fact that before the pandemic there were close to half a million active beekeepers across Europe, he believes that there are great opportunities for growth on the European market.

The mentor on the Smart Bee project, interestingly, is teacher Ivan Vlainic from the Secondary Vocational School in Samobor, a lecturer and mentor of Mate Rimac in the past, who accompanied him to numerous competitions. The most important thing in everything, Vlanic points out, is that talents are recognised as early as possible, as much as possible through competitions for technical schools, and that people who harbour such talents are able enter the world of innovation as early as possible.

As for Hrzic, Smart Bee is his first innovation with which he went to competitions, and the idea arrived to his mind at home, under the influence of his father Hrzic who is a beekeeper and who noticed some shortcomings with the process. Hrzic explained that the main problem in using the equipment that is already out there on the market concerns the price and life of the batteries.

Using the ratiometric ratio used with Smart Bee, according to him, a benefit is achieved because three times lower battery voltage is required for the same measurement accuracy, which means that you don’t have to use 3 batteries but instead only one. These are only the first savings, and by using advanced versions of microcontrollers, the energy efficiency of the system is achieved, which, he says, leads to a cheap product with great application in beekeeping. This is especially true of so-called mobile beekeeping which is based on hive transport.

Mobile apiaries are becoming more prevalent in general, as the season from April to September, depending on the temperature, includes different types of bee food sources which is why hives are transported to locations with plenty of food available, from acacia and chestnut forests to lavender and oilseed rape fields.

Why is beekeeping necessary?

The first thing Hrzic mentions in answer to this query are climate changes that result in unstable weather conditions, so there is an explicit need for scales because they allow the beekeeper to know the moment when to feed the bees, not to have the honey from them consumed, or move them to another location.

According to him, bees can eat about 40 kilograms of honey a day per hundred hives in this sensitive period, so the answer is an innovative scale: a beekeeper from his home, via a mobile or web application, even via SMS by mobile phone, gets an insight in the condition of the apiary. That is done not only in terms of nectar and pollen intake, but also in terms of the temperature in the hive, the monitoring of which can prevent bee swarming or death, in addition to monitoring the health of the queen.

The plan for Smart Bee as time goes on is to place a temperature sensor in each hive, which sends data to the central unit in the scale using Bluetooth technology. Smart Bee, concluded Hrzic, also enables the detection of hives overturning, as well as problems caused by wild animals such as hungry bears.

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