Bees give us life...

…we give life to them!

Global Challenges

Wild insects that pollinate are dangerously decreasing in numbers.  The colonies of the European honeybees which could directly replace them, are declining in biological activity and production and gravely lessening in numbers. All this has caused a crisis in pollination and beekeeping – a truly global challenge.

Intensive pollination increases the yield of fields and the quality of the harvest. It is a voluntary service of the nectar and pollen collecting honeybees. This service is an indespensable contribution to every country’s GDP, and it is innumerably greater in value than the value of products which beekeeping brings.

The unsubstantiated and inappropriate oversue of antibiotics - so rampant all over the world in human medical care, veterinary practices and even in beekeeping – has brought about resistant superbacterias and viruses (such as COVID-19). In the fight against them we find increasing value in natural substances, such as hive products which strengthen the digestive and the immune system, in particular the market leader manuka honey which contains antibacterial agents in high quantities.

The Manuka Challenge

New Zealand has an exceptional potencial for the developing beekeeping industry – a business opportunity which has an estimated worth of 1.5 billion USD. This potential includes the remote untouched areas of wild manuka, the plantations of the cultivated varieties in the High Performance Manuka Plantations programme, the optimalized cultivating technologies and quality guarantee (UMF/MGO) which has tangible results in the extraordinary product platform and global marketing position.

Due to the remarkable research results and ambitious business plans the numbers of bee colonies have quickly increased. Meanwhile environmental concerns and problems of honey quality, efficiency and production in beekeeping have deepened. A complex solution for these, in addition to the goals of continuing to increase export rapidly and growing the industry to be a globally competitive multi-billion-dollar industry, has been thwarted. A major cause for this is the lack of utilization of modern apiary technology, and the large volume of counterfeit honeys on the world market resulting in global chaos.

 

 

Since manuka honey has exceptional antioxidant ant antimikrobial effects the demand for it will foreseeably continue to increase as well as its price. At the same time the excess of field honey - that does not contain manuka but is produced at a higher price than the world market price (8 NZ$/kg) therefore cannot be sold without loss – may cause disturbance.

Honey is the most widely counterfeited product on the world food market. An uncalled-for result of this can be that apiaries become unable to compete and close down. Such apiaries loose out because of the unfair price competition and the overly-costly honey production due to their low production and efficiency. However, these apiaries are essential in pollinating crops.

Counterfeiting honey may have never been such a global practice as nowadays. The reasons for this and possible competitive solutions in the precision1 industry can be the following:

  • global honey consumption is increasing faster than production – production needs to be increased
  • counterfeiting brings larger profits – the cost of production needs to be decreased

NZ beekeeping
sector

Number of hives
 

Honey Production
kg/hive

Hive costs
NZ$/year

Honely
production

t/year

Total Cost
Million NZ$

Honey production
cost
NZ$/kg

      

a

b = d÷a

c

d = a x b

e = a x c

f = e÷a

2018

952 000

21,16

169,31

20 000

160

8

precision system

100 000

2oo

400

20 000

40

2

 

  • Honey is naturally produced, varied in composition, cannot be standardized – needs industrial value chain management, digitally documented production process, traceable and trackable geographical origin, guarantee for quality and quantity

The industrial improvements to realize the full potential of manuka will lead to the increased production of both types of honey. One of the effects of manuka production on the field honey production was the increased prices which was stopped by the introduction of strict measures in the industry. However, this needs to be balanced by extending productivity, efficiency and tracking.

1Precision beekeeping: a modern apiary production system which optimalizes digital resources. It is low-emition, sustainable, environment-friendly, productive and low-cost, as well as is able to produce large quantities of premium quality trackable apiary produce. At the same time it is able to work as a service for intensive farm pollinating.

 

Our Vision

Our goal is to spread the most modern theoretical and practical knowledge to those in the world who are commited to conserve biodiversity just like ourselves.  To those who share our desire to boost the competitiveness of the natural-honey-producing apiaries. Apiaries which improve the pollination of ecosystems by increasing the biological activity of honey-producing bee colonies.

Our Mission

We believe that through the use of our precision apiary system we can improve tolerance to adverse environmental changes, we can contribute to food security and overall social welfare as well as the efficiency of national economies. Our precision beekeeping system is sustainable without notable loss (without reserve colonies), always reliable and can be integrated into other technology.

We trust that our revolutionary ApiCon™  beekeeping technology platform supercolonies2  will play a key role in the near future in the trackable production of large quantities of premium quality honey and apiary products. Moreover, that ApiCon™  technology will assist in decreasing the carbon footprint of the beekeeping industry and agriculture in particular in New Zealand, and making food production safer and more sustainable.

2Supercolony: a colony of a large number of healthy, biologically highly active honey producing European honeybees that can be sustained without significant winter/summer loss. In addition, it has optimum age composition and existing social behaviour based on sisterly feelings, the colonial moral, which is the basis of their productive capacity.

Our Goal

We want to provide a refreshing alternative to the outdated beekeeping tools and practices which cause problems at system level. We want to provide an innovative5 and complex solution that is high-tech, bionic3 and telemetric4 and can be easily used in everyday practice. A solution which helps to withstand the challenges of beekeeping posed by environmental or market changes.

Matching the up-to-date technological requirements of the manuka program in New Zealand we developed the APAS (ApiCon Precision Apiary System) platform6 prototype which we intend to plant and set up through drawing in strategical partners.

3Bionica: the use of biological patterns in high-tech systems – food-quality natural or artificial substances, copying/imitating/repeating solutions found in nature by state-of-the-art technology.

4Telemetrics: cloud-based information communication system with remote digital monitoring and connection to diagnostics networks. It monitors and controls automatic (beekeeping) tools, collects data. GSM and internet supported (IoT – Internet of Things) wide distance, WI-FI datatransfer.

5Innovation: the intentional and creative destruction of the paradigms and the generally accepted problem solving tools and practices in beekeeping. Its goal is to bring about prosperity, make use of new resources, utilize existing and obtain new markets.

6Platform: system model resources

 

ApiCon™ solutions – our future in our hand.

„My interest is in the future, because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.” (C.F. Kettering)

The globally accepted and used Langstroth hives were pattented in 1851! They do not meet today’s technological expectations that modern beekeeping is faced with. They do not make it possible to scientifically research the problems of modern beekeeping or to find a practical solution to them. – The first step to the future is the changing of technology.

Modern beekeeping concept: ApiCon™ technology pillars:

 

  • preventive hives hygiene
  • protection and support of colonies
  • use of mobile devices
  • complex digital solutions

 

ApiCon™ system model – APAS platform resources:

  • high-tech tools – i-Hive, i-HC hive containers and periferies
  • an integrated production system model - APAS platform és IoT telemetrics
  • supercolonies – ApiGenus bee breeding system
  • knowledge-sharing ecosystem – ApiCon Cloud

 

ApiCon™ i-Hive – intelligent, wire-mesh-cased, cylindrical brood chambers in hive

The pattented wire-mesh-cased cylindrical brood chamber is fastened with 3 horizontal holders, which hold together the 9 ringed nest frames. In the rotating cylindrical brood chamber the queen and the worker bees are protected by the wire mesh casing from the unavoidable wax build-up and gluing (which would stop the rotation), even in the case of extreem crowding. (see picture).  The distance between the edge of the rings is the same as the normal mother frames i.e. only workers can pass through the gap. Drones, and even the queen can freely leave the chamber through the drone route.

 

The functioning of i-Hive is based on the use of hive support equipment (periferies, additional equipment) and digital solutions. These protect against pests (by keeping off, trapping or eliminating pests) and  protect from the variable, quick and sometimes agressive environmental changes (such as rain and wind which make foraging difficult, or temperature fluctuation and changes in the time of day which can cause the shortage of  nectar, pollen and water) Such sensors and actuators cannot be integrated into traditional hives. This concept, even in ApiCon technology can not be realized all the way in the i-Hives when they are faced with extreme conditions. The first line of defence is the  i-HC hive container.

Diluting with water - foraging control

The automatic feeding system can occasionally administer a maximum of  2dl flavored sugar syrup (sugar dissolved 1:1 in a non-fermenting brew made of manuka flowers) controls the flower choice of foraging bees. In this collection management the MGO factor can be seen which causes increased monofloral honey production.

Hygiene

All parts of i-Hive which are in contact with bees, honey, wax or propolis are made of food-grade quality materials, such as PVC, PE, stainless steal.

The cylindrical brooding chamber and the honey supers are divided by the upper entrance. This is an automatic system which is combined with pollen traps, and is a system of gates which protects the colony from intruders of larger size than bees, as well as from small hive beetle and "wanderer" varroa mites. It also improves the hive ventilation system and honey ripening. The inactive colony can rest behind closed gates in the winter, free from varroa, nosema and stress.

The regular change of natural wax honeycombs lessens the microbiological pollutants in the nest, and is the most effective solution to remove pathogens from the hive.

 

 

Biodynamic nest resonance:

The active colony increases the nest temperature, of about the tenfold of the 200 to 250 Hz natural oscillation, twice a day (around noon and around midnight) This raises the temperature to just over 40 C0. The aim of this seems to be to disturb the systems (biochemical processes) of pests and pathogens.

 


The top bar hive has unframed, top barred freely built brood chambers, which the bees do not glue to the side of the hive. Experience shows, that in this type of hive varroa mites cause much less problems. A fixed brood chamber would hinder the intensive nest structure resonance which fosters the development of drones and is harmful to varroa mites and pathogens. Varroa dislikes temperatures higher than 32 C0 and last for a period of time. in addition, the mechanical dents on its back that cause infertility become more frequent.

We are convinced, that the half frames and stiff plastic sheets that are so widely used in traditional brood chambers, make it impossible for the colonies to induce intensive biodynamic nest resonance.

The cylindrical wax honeycomb of i-Hive provide an optimal horizontal resonance system in which the colony is able to  induce resonance easily.

i-HC 1.0. hive container

Infocommunicative technology has developed rapidly starting a new digital industrial revolution. The only up-to-date technology is the one which has reliable uptime, can be repeated, and can be integrated into other digital precision technology. Whatever is not digitalized is not competitive.  

ApiCon Cloud

APAS telemetrics: cloud-based information communication system with remote digital monitoring and connection to diagnostics networks. It monitors and controls automatic (beekeeping) tools, collects data. GSM and internet supported (IoT – Internet of Things) wide distance, WI-FI datatransfer.

 

 

 ApiCon Cloud remote users

  • industrial initiatives – pattents, regulations, measures, laws
  • „big data” database – data processing and analysis with many variables, specific software
  • state inspection – migration, bee health, food safety
  • promotional mix – customer motivation, PR, advertising, direct marketing, personal sales
  • product tracking
  • quality guarantee system – independent quality inspection
  • K+F
  • E-learning – technological and handling instructions, beekeeping and IT skills
  • bee breeding – evaluating the efficiency of colonies and queens
  • reference glossary

Productivity

In 2000 the presence of the introduced Varroa destructor was discovered in New Zealand. This parasite opens the body of bees and feeds on it, hence gives way to pathogens which avoid the immune system his way - varroosis. It is a known fact, that following the appearance of Varroa destructor, in 15-20 years the springtime development of infected colonies becomes drawn out, bee lifespan shortens, their numbers and age range become unfavorable. The lifespan of worker bees decreases to 30-32 days due to unfavorable environmental circumstances, the genetic deformities caused by varroosis in the queen and the drones, pests, hunger, illness and the oxidative stress.

The foraging and worker bees, which are older than 21 days become disproportionate (1:3), and traditional colonies lose their ability to produce.


The original host of the varroa mites is the Indian honey bee, Apis cerana, which live in smaller colonies than the globally spread European honey bee. In  Apis cerana  nests it is able to breed only on the drones, which develop in 21 days, only rarely on the worker bees which develop in 18 days. In European honey bee colonies they also seek out the drones. With their help they are able to spread to the young queens causing mutations, genetic flaws that cause hereditary diseases. All this leads to the genetic debilitation of the colony and its loss of productivity. Therefore the protection of drones is of utmost importance.

The colonies which are on the verge of losing their productivity live up the nectar of the cultivated manuka plantations, and are unable to produce much honey in their supers. Honey taken from the brooding chambers is of lesser quality as it contains microbiological contaminants and large amounts of pollen (bee bread) which can lead to quality problems on the market and loss of competitiveness.

The productivity of colonies depends on:

  • environmental parameters – terrain, temperature, humidity, windspeed
  • number of foraging bees  
  • foraging distance
  • frequency of foraging
  • the ability to collect nectar, and the timing of this

A bee is able to carry maximum 69% of its bodyweight (0,1 g) so about 0,069 g. If we calculate with a foraging distance of maximum 300 meters, the 60% nectar which has a 0,059g water content is sufficient for 0,0173 g honey with 20% water content. We still need to deduct the 0,01g honey from this that the bee consumes before flying out (which it needs for the approximately 1 km distance foraging).

The productivity of the APAS platform is 10-30 times higher than what can be reached by any other traditional beekeeping technology, and this can be reached without the use of reserve hives. – provided foraging has no environmental limitations:

  • 2-3 times more foraging bees (38 thousand less than 30* days old foraging bees/supercolny)
  • 2-3 times more flight out (4 times per hour/20 times a day)
  • 2-3 times more brought in (from 100-300 meters 0,0173g/occasion)

 

Theoreticaly i-Hive is able to produce a net amount of: 38000 x 0,0173 x 20 = 13148 g,  13* kg honey per day.

*productivity calculated without the number of workers who are younger than 30 days and work in the nest on feeding the less than 21-day old bees.

 

 

The effect of ApiCon cylindrical nests: 2-3 times more foraging bees in a supercolony

In an effort to decrease bee loss several strategies are implemented such as active protection and support, increased hive hygiene, well-kept environment, all of which reduce oxidative stress and result in lengthening the lifespan of worker bees therefore raising number of bees in the super colonies.  

7Oxidatív-stressz: méhek fizikai igénybevétellel járó szárnykopása, a testükben felhalmozódó növényvédő-, méhészeti, rovar- és atkaölő szerek és szermaradványok, a légszennyezés miatti idő előtti elöregedése, elhullása.

Az aktív szuperkolónia hengerfészkének rendszeres, kismértékű elfordítása lehetővé teszi a királynő, munkásai és kedvezőtlen környezeti tényezők által nem korlátozható petézésének irányítását, a gyűjtőméhek nagy számának szinten tartását, a varroák szaporodásának akadályozását és vegyszermentes kiirtásukat a nosema kórokozóival együtt, a telelő fészek precíziós hőkezelésével – életet adunk a méheknek.

 

 


A méztermelés növelésének kevesek által ismert mesterfogása - évszázadokon át apáról fiúra szálló titka - a kolónia fészkének/lakásának (A) virágzás várható időpontjához időzített, egyszeri átfordításán és bővítésén (B) alapult.

 

During the passive period of colonies they are guaranteed a varroa- and nosema free environment through the periodical small rotation and heating of the brood chamber. This triggers worker bees evacuate the leftover honey from the honey chambers, which is now irregularly positioned under the winter nest, to the honeysupers (apart from the left/right „closing chambers” that store the bee bread/honey) and so prepare the biological nest for the queen to lay eggs in, now using it fully.

  • During the rapid spring renewal, super colonies gain numbers quickly which provides them with great advantage over the later incoming varroa mites. Therefore, it is ensured that the imbalance of bee/varroa ratio (seen on figure), so common in traditional hives, cannot develop during the productive period of colonies. As a result, it is unnecessary to use any additional protection against varroa.

  • in the biological brood chamber in 5 chambers a total of 40000 cells are available for the queen to lay eggs in, so she starts laying eggs about 1900 eggs/day, in a continuous, uniform rate, that cannot be blocked by workers carrying honey or nectar into the cells even in unfavourable circumstances.
  • the varroa-free cylindrical nest is protected by rotation from the "wandering" varroa mites brought in by foreign bees:
    • firstly, it delays the laying of the first (male) varroa egg and so its development.
    • in case the varroa still successfully hatches, by the rotation it comes under the much heavier larvae or pupa, the weight of which causes dents on 40-80% of the young female mites thus making them infertile.
    •  
    • at least 50% of varroa mites that leave the cells fall down to the bottom of the hive and die (This effect is extended by the upper passageway solution, since this way the intensive carrying does not happen through the crowded nest thus the varroa mites are unable to latch onto bees)

Swarm blocking:

The small rotation of the biodynamic cylindrical nests at regular intervals during the active period inhibits swarming. A queen cell, creating a new queen cannot be performed as its early form, being irregularly positioned by the rotation, is constantly being chewed up by the worker bees. Thus, swarming cannot be successful. For the yearly exchanging of the queen, a well-bred, superb quality, already mated young queen is necessary. The breeding of 1 million queens a year, whose lineage is known on the father’s side as well, is not yet resolved.

 

Bee-breeding – ApiGenus – known father lineage bee-breeding system

The interviewed beekeepers in New Zealand name the blemishes of the queens as number one cause for the loss of their colonies – forgetting the cause of all problems, namely varroosis. Forgetting the reality of bee-genetics that 75% of the genetic insufficiencies of the young queens and their offsprings is caused by the drones’ damaged, of lesser genetic value, most likely infected seminal fluid. Drones, whose origin is not even known. Varroosis has caused hereditary genetic flaws and weaker immune systems in the young queens, and problems in the development of worker bees even in New Zealand in the last 20 years.

The genetical value of colonies can be improved in the ApiCon breeding system.

The ApiGenus breeding system provides digital selection based on fitnes (selection success) and sense of direction. The mother queens can be digitally identified and their efficiency is digitally measurable. Their offsprings – drones and virgin queens of known origin – are provided with mating opportunity through natural swarming in a controled environment from the APAS productive supercolonies.   

Reachability and optimum allocation – „more, more times”

The unprecedented speed of datatransfer through 5G technology can bring about a revolution in apiary logistics also. i-HC hive containers can be placed every 300-500 meters without disturbing each other, depending on the apiary value of the foraging area. (10-12 ha/colony density) Their optimum placement can be 10-30 times the traditional 1 colony/ha practice, raising their productivity in proportion.

New Zealand has many far-off, so far untouched areas of wild manuka, since these places are unreachable by land vehicles. However, they can be reached by the most modern, highly efficient, AI-equipped agricultural UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drones, which make it possible to tap into this resource.


 

An advantage of using in beekeeping these freight drones, which can carry up to 200 kg of weight, and have a range of 50-100 km, that it is not necessary to build new infrastructure. The main technical obstacle is supply of power. This can be overcome by the use of spare batteries, that can be changed in 5-10 minutes, or fuel cells. The prepared landing spots marked by GPS coordinates the drone can set up or take away the i-HC hive containers.


Efficiency

Efficiency is basically an economical term. Economists usually measure it in production rates or money since the goal is to simplify processes, lessen expenses and increase income and profit.

The economical meaning of efficiency is extended in modern beekeeping industry with new requirements, such as implementing new technology, digitalizing and tracking. The goal is to lessen risks and increase competitiveness. In order to reach this it is necessary to take a new base position, one which improves long-term prospects and encourages the trust of investors. A new business model is needed. Seeing the progress of the share prices of New Zealand’s leading beekeeping company the above seems unavoidable

Bees bring 5 billion NZ$ to New Zealand’s GDP simply by pollinating crops. Pollination does not only increase the yield of fields but improves the quality of produce. This is a vital contribution to economy provided by the nectar- & pollen collecting honeybees. It is many times the combined value of the market costs of pollination and beekeeping goods. Despite this fact, the danger looms that the producers of standard honeys will lose their competitiveness, due to their high cost price, and new legislation made in the beekeeping industry and trade. The price of traditional field honeys of New Zealand has been broken away from their original markets by manuka’s strong price rise. It is not possible anymore to return to those markets as cost prices have gone awry. On top of this, there is an overproduction of cheap, untraceable commercial honeys on the world market, manipulated by counterfeit honey-makers.

"Long-term global demand for health and welfare products is very positive and New Zealand has superb high quality honeys. We need to work on how we tell that story across other native and monofloral honeys, not just mānuka." (Karin Kos)

The 2 greatest expenses of traditional beekeeping:

  • spare hives and colonies
  • unnecessary hive visitations (vehicle tear and wages)

can be reduced even eliminated by modernizing technology.

NZ beekeeping sector

Number of hives
db

Honey production
kg/hive

Hive
Costs
NZ$/year

Honey
Production
t/year

Total
Cost
millionNZ$

Honey
Production
Cost
NZ$/kg

a

b = d÷a

c

d = a x b

e = a x c

f = e÷a

2018

952 000

21

169

20 000

161

8

APAS

100 000

2oo

400

20 000

40

2