The complexity of beekeeping is not something that is frequently pondered when lathering your toast with honey at breakfast time. That is unless you are on the forefront of apiary management. Much like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, not many people know what work goes into the final honey product before it ends up on the supermarket shelves, except for Wonka himself or in this case Julian McCurdy.
Julian has been in the bee industry for a number of years now. It was after two years leading a double life, working in IT and beekeeping on the side, that Julian decided to merge the two careers and lifestyles to focus on bees. Julian’s father, Kerry, created BeezThingz in 2001 initially as a beehive rental business, and with Julian’s help, it has since morphed into a unique blending of holistic beekeeping and savvy technology use.
BeezThingz offer beehive rental and beehive management services throughout New Zealand, with a firm focus on the wellbeing of bees. BeezThingz has been running as an app, used by five different contract beekeeping companies, to help them monitor and track their beehives. This system connects local, independent beekeepers with those people wanting bees, and more importantly it provides a platform for hive management that can be used to further understanding of the amazing creatures.
The next stage for BeezThingz is to develop sensors for the beehives and extend the software to commercial honey producers.
“Some of our competitors have sensors that monitor production, we have a philosophical difference in that our sensors are designed to monitor the wellbeing of the bees, rather than just the volume of production,” explains Julian. That’s where Peter Bennett comes in. Julian says, “I went out looking for the geekiest person I could find to develop these sensors” and found that in Peter.
Peter is now the CTO at BeezThingz and is building the sensor electronics and communications from the ground up so that beekeepers don’t have to manually manage their hives so intensively. The next stage of software development involves establishing the algorithms for the behavioural analysis of the bees.
It’s thanks to Julian’s father Kerry that BeezThingz has a point of difference in the focus for monitoring hives. Bio-dynamics is a passion for Kerry and an aspect he endeavoured to bring into his work. The BeezThingz team are managing to incorporate nature and all of its variables with technology to make apiary measurable and more seamless to manage.