Sateliot, S4IoT look to increase global food security with beehive monitoring technology

Low-Earth orbit nanosatellite constellation to deliver 5G satellite connectivity to allow beekeepers to monitor the temperature, weight and humidity of beehives and track pollination

In a manner of speaking, the insect population is a canary in a coalmine for the planet, and recent decades have seen the bee, the butterfly and other pollinator populations experience significant decreases, directly threatening food security. In response, Sateliot, the first company to operate a low-Earth orbit nanosatellite constellation with 5G standards, has entered into a collaboration with internet of things (IoT) services developer S4IoT to launch the world’s first technology for remote monitoring of beehives and pollination.

Explaining the rationale for their partnership, the two companies said it’s estimated that 87% of global crop production depends, to some extent, on pollination, and even if pollinators contribute around $500bn a year to global food production, according to Ohio State University, only 15% of beehives are currently monitored.

The firms’ BeeWaze offering is designed to allow beekeepers to monitor the temperature, weight and humidity of beehives online, as well as the conditions and weather forecasts of the exact area where they are located. Similarly, during crop flowering, agricultural producers can monitor the pollination process with updated information on bee flow per minute and per day. 

The aim is that with Sateliot’s help, beekeepers and agriculture producers in areas without internet access will be able to monitor bees and pollination levels.

Farmers will be able to verify the activity of the beehives contracted to pollinate their crops, reducing the time dedicated to field visits and optimising costs.

BeeWaze also aims to significantly cut down one of the key gating factors to connectivity: cost. Sateliot said that until now, connecting to legacy satellite operators involved high costs because it required buying additional hardware such as antennas and signal receivers, as well as contracting connection services for each device.

Sateliot uses the 3GPP standard protocol, which is already the norm for any mobile network operator or mobile virtual network operator for their terrestrial cellular networks, and allows IoT devices to switch rapidly to the satellite when the cellular network is unavailable. This is possible thanks to standard roaming agreements generated with the user’s current operators, at a price very similar to that of normal mobile networks.

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Sateliot’s network is designed to provide coverage in areas where traditional terrestrial connectivity is limited or non-existent, such as remote locations, crop fields, mountains or oceans. The standard protocol will allow massive deployment of 5G IoT services without captivity risks or inflated prices.

In January 2023, Sateliot entered into a partnership with internet of things (IoT) provider Sensefinity for asset tracking to launch global 5G-IoT satellite connectivity for sea containers, facilitating data transmission from 1,000 smart containers that could save medium shipping companies up to $1.4m per year on maintenance and repairs.

“Our standard IoT connectivity of non-terrestrial networks (NTN) can eliminate the burden of beehive monitoring in rural areas,” said Sateliot CEO Jaume Sanpera, explaining the impact of the new technology on beehive monitoring. “[With S4IoT], we provide affordable and more reliable technology along with the commitment to help beekeepers save their bees, which are a very important part of our ecosystem and the basis of the food chain worldwide.”

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