There are plenty of companies out there making sensors that allow beekeepers to monitor their hives. What sets BroodMinder apart is that it makes all of the data generated by its users free and open to the public by default.
BroodMinder is a small, bootstrapped company that sells basic hive sensors to the beekeeping enthusiast market (read: not big commercial operations). A basic temperature sensor will cost beekeepers just $30 to get started, and uses Bluetooth to transmit data to the BroodMinder mobile app on your phone once an hour. Users can then track their hive data on the MyBroodMinder app.
If you want to gather more data from your hives, BroodMinder also sells a humidity sensor, a scale to measure hive weight ($179) and a hive HUB that will continuously collect data from your sensors and beam them up to the cloud through a cellular connection ($398 for unit + cell subscription) or WiFi ($348 for unit + premium BroodMinder subscription).
If you want to keep your data private, you’ll have to pay $75/year for a BroodMinder premium subscription. “We want a big pile of data,” said Rich Morris, “Lead Drone” at BroodMinder. “We collect that data and store it for free in the cloud, as long as you agree that it is public domain.”
All shared data is anonymous and coded only by zip code. You can see the hive data for yourself via an interactive map over at beecounted.org. Right now, BroodMinder has 1,100 users across 1,700 apiaries and 2,700 hives, and the Broodminder database just crossed 100 million data points.
So what’s going to be done with all this data? That’s a good question. Right now, BroodMinder is just collecting data, it doesn’t offer machine learning or AI to turn that data in actionable insights for beekeepers. There are, however, some groups like university researchers poring over the data to see what can learned in aggregate, especially as it relates to any insights about latitude, climate change and bee health.
That’s not to say BroodMinder won’t find ways to monetize this data. At this point, the company is just too small to develop that robust of a product roadmap. Unlike other beehive monitoring services like ApisProtect and Nectar, which target the commercial space and have taken outside money, BroodMinder is funded by Morris and staffed mostly by volunteers.
Eventually, Morris wants to take BroodMinder into the agriculture space and sell to commercial operations, but his first priority is to grow a user base, collect information and then be able to show more concrete ROI.
Hopefully his open data approach can build more buzz for BroodMinder.