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Completed project

Development of non-invasive methods and systems for the assessment of hive health (PH17001)

Key research provider: Queensland University of Technology
Publication date: Monday, April 29, 2024

What was it all about?

This investment addressed the demand from horticultural industries for greater confidence in pollination services through the evaluation and dissemination of information on hive standards, commercial pollination practices and sensing technology to determine colony health and hive strength in key horticultural industries (almond, avocado, cucurbits, blueberry).


The demand for honeybees for pollination services in Australia is estimated at 650,000 hives (~A$82 million) and will increase significantly in the next decade. The almond industry's demand for hives is greatest, estimated to reach 400,000 hives by 2026.

Almond industry contracts for hive supply include standards on 'hive strength' (the number of bees in a hive). Experienced auditors determine payment to apiarists through inspection of hives and estimation of colony strength. However, almond growers have identified concerns with the high cost of hives, difficulties in supplying adequate hives, and that hives supplied did not meet expectations for 'hive strength'.


This project evaluated standards and conventional practices that determine colony strength and health in pollination services, as well as the potential use of sensing technology. The research team conducted desktop studies, interviews, questionnaires, and direct field observation. The research team also tested a range of technologies and measured parameters (e.g., temperature, hive weight) against colonies of different strength in a research apiary and hives during pollination musters.


This project developed industry best practices and quality assurance systems to improve European honey bee management and pollination. The systems were designed to fit current industry practices and align with the Honey Bee code of practice.

Findings were disseminated to target audiences (industry and researchers) through industry articles and open-access peer-reviewed journals, industry presentations and research conferences, webinars, videos, and the open-access publication of a PhD thesis.

The adoption of sensing technology increased rapidly at the end of the project with the commercial partnership between Bee Hero technology and Monson’s Honey and Pollination (the leading brokers to the Australian almond industry) in 2023.


Watch this presentation developed by the research team which looks at Improvements in beekeeping to optimize pollination and food security. You can use the below password to access the presentation: 

Password: Beetalk123!