CropLife Australia has partnered with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council and with support from national farming organizations launched a smartphone application that helps farmers and beekeepers coordinate their activities throughout the country.
The first app of its kind in the world, BeeConnected enables two-way communication between farmers and beekeepers while maintaining personal privacy via an in-app messaging system. Farmers can log the location of their property via GPS coordinates in Google Maps and beekeepers can do the same to show present and future beehive locations. When a beehive is located near a farm or a crop protection activity is proposed, both the beekeeper and farmer receive an automatic alert. They can then communicate further through the secure internal messaging service. BeeConnected was launched in September 2014.
It is thought 65 percent of Australia’s crops are dependent on the honey bee population for pollination and the financial value is estimated at approximately US$3 to US$5 billion annually, making their survival crucial to plant production. Improved communication between users of crop protection products and beekeepers can reduce the risk of unintended exposure of bees to any products that may have the potential to negatively impact their health.
All of Australia’s state farmer organizations and a number of key agricultural producer groups have joined the BeeConnected initiative as official supporters and promote use of the app among their members. To date, about 1,000 users have registered with an even split of beekeepers and farmers/contractors and feedback indicates that registrants find it convenient and easy to use, while feeling that their privacy is protected. The app can be downloaded for free for iPhones or Androids as well as accessed on a computer here.
Following the success in Australia, several international partners such as CropLife Canada, CropLife America, CropLife Latin America, CropLife Asia and ANDEF (national crop protection organization in Brazil) have expressed interest in making BeeConnected available in their own countries and respective languages. CropLife Australia is working with them to make it possible.
For more information, and to download the app, visit CropLife.org/bee-connected