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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

student life

New tracking system helps prevent bee hive thefts

Bees gather around the entrance to retired IU biology professor George Hegeman's hive. At full strength in the summer, the hive can hold as many as 60,000 bees.

As a sophomore at IU, Ellie Symes helped bring beekeeping to campus. Now, as the CEO of her own corporation, the Bee Corp, Symes, now a graduate, is working to help cut down the rising number of beehive thefts.

The Bee Corp's mission, according to its website, is to "drive innovation on traditional beekeeping practices through scientific research and technology in order to foster sustainable honeybee populations."

Commercial beekeepers move their hives across the nation throughout the year in order to provide farmers with pollination services; however, more than 1,700 hives were stolen in California during the 2016 almond pollination season, according to an IU press release.

For this reason, the Bee Corp developed the QGPS Hive Theft Tracking System. The QGPS provides instant alerts to beekeepers if it detects unauthorized hive movement, Symes said in the press release. 

Symes said in the press release the technology comes in the form of a GPS sensor inside the hive. 

“It can automatically notify local authorities to dispatch a patrol to the location of the hive,” she said. “After a theft has occurred, QGPS generates a report that can be used to prosecute the thieves and return the hive to its rightful owner.”

The batteries for these sensors have a six-year life, according to the Bee Corp’s website, but the corporation prevents beekeepers from paying for a repair or replacement by offering a lifetime hardware guarantee. Symes said in the release they like to say their battery life is “infinite.”

There are three different service packages for the QGPS — basic, premium and elite — at a range of prices with different amounts of theft alerts and rates of GPS pings. The premium and elite packages have LE Secure™ Registry Opt-in, which provides local law enforcement with hive GPS data, allowing police to return property quickly and alert the beekeeper if there was a theft in the area near their hives. 

There are currently 148 hives being monitored and eight queenless hives have been saved, according to the Bee Corp’s website. Customers in Indiana are cited on the website as saying they enjoy the convenience of the QGPS.

The Bee Corp will demonstrate the QGPS at two industry events Jan. 9-13 in Reno, Nevada, and San Diego, California.

Hannah Boufford 

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