It’s estimated that one in every three mouthfuls of food that Australians consume relies on pollination support by honey bees. Australia is the only populated country in the world that hasn’t been impacted by the Varroa Destructor (Varroa mite), however, experts predict that it’s only a matter of time before it establishes itself in Australia.
The Varroa mite is a tiny mite that attaches itself to honey bees and honey bee brood to the detriment of the honey bee and the honey bee colony. The Varroa mite is also known to transmit viruses amongst honey bees.
The Varroa mite has crippled honey bee colonies worldwide. If the Varroa mite was to establish itself in Australia, it has the potential to devastate the local beekeeping industry.
The Purple Hive Project is an initiative to create the “Purple Hive” to monitor bee hives for Varroa mite.
The “Purple Hive” is a solar-powered artificial intelligence-based device, trained to detect the Varroa mite in real-time. The intention is that the Purple Hive will help prevent the spread of Varroa mite if the Varroa mite were to make its way into Australia.
The Purple Hive is currently under development and will use an algorithm to observe each individual bee entering the hive. The Purple Hive will scans each honey bee to determine if Varroa mite is present.
If a Varroa mite is detected, a notification will immediately be sent which will allow for the hive to be quarantined to stop the spread of the Varroa mite.
The aim of the Purple Hive Project is to create the Purple Hive to provide a solution for what is currently a painstakingly manual detection process.
Surveillance for early detection of the Varroa mite remains crucial to protecting the health of the honey industry and Australian agriculture more broadly.
While the development of the Purple Hive is still being finalised, the long-term vision is that the Purple Hives will be placed at high risk entry points around Australia to assist with early detection and monitoring.
The vision is that the Purple Hive Project will help to protect Australia from the Varroa mite to try to ensure that the Australian honey industry, as well as honey bee pollination dependent industries, are viable for generations to come.