Two entrepreneurs, Feisal Hamad Hamdan al Balushi and Said Hamed al Satmi, have set up an e-platform for apiarists. Trackbees helps beekeepers track bees online and protects their hives from theft. Feisal started Trackbees in partnership with Said in Muscat last year.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Feisal – who graduated from the University of Sunderland in Malaysia – said, “Said mentioned this idea to me in 2017. He’s an apiarist and a graduate of electronics and communications engineering. Said found that beekeepers like himself need help in choosing the best place to keep their bees that’ll provide a suitable environment for the insects, such as appropriate temperature and humidity, and protection for the hives from theft.”
Feisal and Said weren’t able to act on their idea for a long time for several reasons and only started work on Trackbees at the end of 2019 just as COVID-19 was beginning to rear its ugly. “We presented the idea to the Oman Technology Fund, which welcomed the idea. The OTF not only provided us with financial support, but also promoted the project and held workshops for us in Oman and abroad,” said Feisal.
Trackbees works through sensors embedded in the beehives which transfer data to a platform accessed by Said and Feisal, who said, “We analyse the data and send it online to beekeepers to take measures to protect their beehives or move them depending on the conditions. In keeping with our objective to help beekeepers increase honey production and prevent theft, Trackbees also analyses data that protect bees from harmful pests.”
The initial response to Trackbees, though, wasn’t encouraging. While some apiarists didn’t believe it could work, others were afraid it would interfere in the bees’ natural honey-production ability and process. “We overcame the naysayers by promoting the idea through social media and the support of OTF. The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries also helped; some of its beehives are now connected to Trackbees,” Feisal said.
The two are currently trying to promote and popularise Trackbees through workshops where they explain how it works and allay beekeepers’ fears. Efforts are also on to promote the platform globally.