PLCnext Community Gets Beehind Next-gen Smart Hive Technology

February 21, 2023 by Stephanie Leonida

The Beehyve project from the PLCnext Community leverages swarm intelligence from challenge participants to help create smart hives for promoting bee health and care.

Through the company’s PLCnext Community, Phoenix Contact, is endeavoring to onboard bee lovers and enthusiasts with diverse expertise (in data, programming, sensor technology, meteorology, and bee care) to help construct an automated smart hive. 

The overarching goal of the Beehyve project is to create an intelligent home for bees that can help improve bee health, optimize the hive, and provide an automated hive system that helps support beekeeper activities. 

PLCnext Community’s Beehyve project aims to safeguard bee health and optimize hive activities through automation. Image used courtesy of Phoenix Contact


PLCnext Technology Ecosystem

Phoenix Contact created the PLCnext Technology ecosystem, a solution-generating engine for modern automation challenges. The ecosystem’s PLCnext Control provides customers access to PLC hardware. The configuration and programming of this hardware are available through the PLCnext Engineer software platform. Customers can also access software applications through the PLCnext Store digital software marketplace and collaborate or keep on top of industry trends with the PLCnext Community. 


A Hyve of Ideas

Bees are essential for the global food supply. They play an important role in pollinating food crops, which is integral for maintaining a healthy and sustainable food system. Bees pollinate over 75 percent of our major food crops, including nuts, seeds, fruits, and veggies. Without them, our world would be a much different place.

The importance of bees goes beyond just pollination, however. They also provide us with honey and wax for creating products such as candles, cosmetics, and medicines. 


A smart beehive can help beekeepers by automating manual tasks, alerting keepers to when bees might be ill, need feeding, or when honey can be collected. Image used courtesy of Pixabay


The PLCnext Community invites programmers, data experts, industry professionals, technical experts, and other bee enthusiasts to join a sustainable crowd project, Beehyve. The ‘groundbreaking’ project focuses on developing an intelligently automated beehive to help monitor and maintain bee health, support beekeeper communities, enhance the beehive system, and protect and maintain the bee’s natural environment. 

Coming together in a swarm of people and ideas will provide invaluable knowledge to assist in developing a prototype hive.

Hive Construction Underway

According to Phoenix Contact, a prototype hive is under construction, incorporating both PLCnext Control AXC F 3152 and AXC F 2152. This will allow the transfer of simulated projects to the prototype. The prototype’s AXC F 3152 controller connects to the new machine learning extension module (AXC F XT ML1000), allowing AI-based applications to run. 

The hive will have a weather station and sensors for monitoring weather, heat, humidity, and weight. The heavier a hive could mean several things, one being producing a greater volume of honey. 

The Beehyve project focuses on five key challenge areas. Image used courtesy of Phoenix Contact


The hive will also use an emerging long-range wireless communication technology, LoRaWAN. LoRaWAN allows for low-power, low-cost, and secure communication between connected devices over long distances. It has become a popular choice for IoT applications due to its ability to provide reliable communication with low latency and minimal power consumption. 

LoRaWAN is designed to provide point-to-point or broadcast communication between connected devices efficiently. This makes it ideal for IoT applications such as smart cities, smart homes, industrial automation, and agricultural monitoring. In addition, using LoRaWAN can help reduce costs associated with infrastructure deployment and maintenance.

Beekeepers could benefit from real-time alerts to temperature or humidity changes and take appropriate action to ensure hives are kept at optimal conditions. Alerts concerning hive weight might indicate the right time to harvest honey. 


Buzzing With Excitement?

If you are practically buzzing with excitement and want to know more about the project and how to get involved, you can visit the PLCnext Technology website and sign up for the Buzzletter.