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Dublin: 10°C Monday 30 November 2020
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Two second year students from Limerick have invented air-conditioning for bees

More honey = more money.

BEE POPULATIONS HAVE been plummeting in recent years – for a variety of reasons, including habitat loss, pesticides and diseases.

In other words, they need all the help they can get.

shutterstock_110485346 Source: Shutterstock/Dancestrokes

So perhaps a little air conditioning, to keep them cool as they work, wouldn’t go amiss?

A BT Young Scientist project from two Second Years at Desmond College, Limerick caught our eye at the RDS this week.

Their ‘Bee Cool’ device, as the lads put it in their entry, “aims to improve the efficiency at which bees work and increase the yields of honey being produced”.

Here’s the science, from David O’Brien:

“Once the temperature goes over 34 degrees the bees aren’t able to produce honey. So what they do is they bring one drop of water into the hive. They spit it out and flap their wings to evaporate it.

That’s taking up the time and effort that could be used making honey.

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

His project partner, Danny Moriarty, sums it up in 12 words:

You want them to make more honey, so they’ll make more money.

So how does the technology work?

In simple terms, once the thermostat hits 34 degrees it activates a fan. When it dips below 34 again, the fan deactivates.

Danny talks us through it:

Source: Video TheJournal.ie/YouTube

So is this a problem in the beekeeping world?

It appears so. From the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences:

“Bees may become overheated if they are confined in the hive during hot weather and have no access to water. It is especially a problem when hives are being moved in hot weather for pollination or to follow honey flows.

“Overheated bees crawl rapidly and flutter their wings. When released from their confinement they will disperse by crawling in a disorderly manner.

When bees have died from overheating they are sometimes wet which is due to the bee regurgitating fluids in vain attempts to cool themselves.

bees1

The lads consulted the County Limerick Beekeeper’s Association as part of their research.

They’re hoping their creation will generate a buzz of interest (sorry) among beekeepers and honey producers around the world.

(Video by Michael Sheils McNamee)

Read: Who’s better at lying – boys or girls?

Read: This 5th Year student has invented a nappy that tells if babies are sick

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