Melbourne: An online tool that uses images from NASA satellites is being used by Australia’s beekeepers to find sources of nectar and pollen for their bees.
Called ‘BeeBox’ the online tool is the first of its kind in the world and uses historical and current satellite imagery to help beekeepers predict where and when eucalypt trees will flower. Most Australian beekeepers rely on flowering eucalypts to provide nectar and pollen for their bees, with most locating their hives within state-owned eucalypt forests. Eucalypts are highly adapted to Australian conditions and their flowering cycle is complex. Most species only flower every two, three or four years and a number of factors influence flowering, including temperature and rainfall. BeeBox, which has been developed with funding from the Rural Industries R&D Corporation, can be accessed for free from home or a mobile device and uses imagery direct from NASA satellites to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information about eucalypt flowering cycles. The tool has been developed by Jonathan Arundel from the University of Melbourne. “Beekeepers can view growth at a single point in time, compare points in time, or select and plot eucalypt growth cycles over the past ten years,” Arundel said.