South Oxfordshire’s agriculture has developed from mixed farming to an aggressive arable regime of 3 crop monoculture. In the only country in Europe where Beekeepers do not have to be registered it is hard for pesticide users to know where hives are, let alone efficiently communicate all types of treatments with owners.
uWatch Ltd have offices and the staff keep bees right in the middle of this area and local bee keepers had been experiencing growing colony losses since 2015 and virtually no swarms.
We decided to start developing a reporting system called Bee.Watch. The system was approved by Red Tractor and local pesticide users recorded what they were spraying on an app which also worked for Swarm collecting and apiary records. In 2019 the system was extended to keep records for individual hives using QR Codes.
Working with the University of Hertfordshire we introduced Pesticide Eco toxicity reports, which illustrate the impact of pesticides’ active ingredients on the surrounding flora and fauna via traffic lights system. The associated alerts warn beekeepers if some form of protection is required for their hives.
With the help of local farmers and NFU we added complex issues like “tank mixes”.
It was then realised that this activity is taking place around residential areas so the Bystander version of the app was released so local residents could also be warned of pesticide use.
We signed up for the BeeConnected system for reporting pesticides and in 2019 used Bee.Watch alongside it. We had 2 alerts from BeeConnected, and 179 from Bee.Watch. The significant data we gathered showed that 50% of all commercial treatments included Glyphosate.
The Bee.Watch system has now been years in development during which time it has become an effective hive and apiary management system with an efficient swarm management feature; invasive species tracking feature and a mentor system.
Bee.Watch products and apps are now being used by a range of users, from bee farmers to pest controllers, all data is securely stored on an ISO27001 approved host, the swarm management system does not publish swarm collectors contact details on the internet and pesticide notifications qualify users under their Red Tractor obligations.