You've heard of tools and diesel being stolen from farms but the latest crime spree sweeping rural communities is the theft of bee hives.
A Victorian agtech start-up has been recognised today for its role in stopping these thefts in its tracks thanks to its innovative GPS tracking device.
Hive Guardian is a tiny, light-weight and ultra-rugged battery-powered GPS bee hive tracker that can help beekeepers track and recover stolen hives and monitor queen bee health during transit.
Apiarists can view the movements of their hive 24/7, set alerts if there is suspicious activity, and obtain a precise GPS location if the hive goes missing.
The technology was developed by Victorian firefighter, beekeeper, and CEO/founder of HiveKeepers, Simon Mildren.
HiveKeepers was one of three winners, alongside LB AgTech and CRC for Honey Bee Products, in the inaugural Beef Tech Challenge.
The pitch-style competition is run by the AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination program in partnership with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council.
AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination program manager Annelies McGaw said it was really exiting to see how remote-sensing technologies could be adapted to strengthen the honey bee industries in a variety of ways.
"Each year pollinators contribute more than $100 million to the Australian economy and play a crucial role in the productivity of our agricultural sectors," Ms McGaw said.
"The Bee Tech Challenge is part of our ongoing commitment to foster a thriving agtech ecosystem to further support and increase the capacity of our primary industries."
The competition criteria looked at ready-for-market Australian products designed to meet the needs of the honey bee and pollination industry in the key areas of hive health, biosecurity, hive safety, bushfire protection and preparedness.
Applicants were assessed on their ability to provide easy to adopt technologies offering immediate results to Australia's 9000 commercial beekeepers.
Seven finalists presented to a panel of industry leaders and 600 delegates at the fourth Australian Bee Congress, which took place in Sydney earlier this month.
AHBIC acting CEO and commercial beekeeper Danny Le Feuvre hoped all of the start-ups would go on to provide some relief to the honey and pollination sectors after three years of climatic challenges.
"With a significant proportion of our industry still reeling from the damaging Black Summer bushfires and recent flooding events across the eastern seaboard, initiatives such as the Bee Tech Challenge allow us to identify innovative ways of safeguarding our businesses," Mr Le Feuvre said.
"Australia's honey and pollination industry is internationally recognised for its high quality products and national hive health practices.
"Our priority is to maintain this reputation by supporting beekeepers and facilitating opportunities for the sector to grow."
The winning companies receive two tickets to EvokeAg 2023 in Adelaide on February 21 and 22, where they will meet with potential investors, researchers and agribusinesses from the Asia Pacific region.
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