NEW INITIATIVE TO HELP THE APICULTURE INDUSTRY

A MULTIDISCIPLINARY PROJECT WILL PROVIDE SUPPORT TOOLS FOR BEEKEEPERS, LIKE DESIGNING A FLOWERING PREDICTION MODEL.



June 30, 2016

Lower honey production by effects of climate change and the decline in bee populations is an issue recognized worldwide, but in the Maule Region it has an additional component: the sustained decline of the competitiveness in the sector due to factors such as poor beehives management and the presence of transgenic pollen in some honeys, which causes a decrease in their prices of up to 40 percent.

This problem is dealt with in the project entitled “Digital Botanical Apiculture Mapping for the Development of Organic Beekeeping in the Maule Region", financed by the Regional Government through the Competitiveness Innovation Fund and led by Pablo Villalobos, Professor from the Department of Agricultural Sciences, who, along with an interdisciplinary team from the UTALCA, is developing technological tools enabling bee producers to improve their capabilities.

"We want beekeepers to optimize the use of natural resources and improve their productivity. For that, we are defining the most appropriate areas for the development of apiculture and showing the best practices for the management of apiaries", he said.

The project addresses the identification of areas with potential for the development of organic beekeeping, the design of a model for flowering prediction in six forest species of importance for beekeeping and the creation of a protocol for technical handling and management, allowing the control of critical points in the production. In addition, an online, real-time productive simulation system will be developed for consultation, which will correlate the development state of the hives, the phenology of the botanical species of apicultural interest and the behavior of climatic variables.

Advances

The activities carried out include the establishment of 13 plots to assess the phenological stages of the species, as well as the vegetation description of 103 sectors with beekeeping potential. Along with this, academics in Bioinformatics are working on a preliminary version of a flowering prediction model for Quillay, Hazel, Tevo, Litre, Corontillo and Peumo, identified as important for beekeeping in the zone.

Regarding beehive management, “critical production points were identified and the Apicheck technical handling and management protocol is in the validation process, which is an internal application generated by the multidisciplinary team," said Richard Manríquez, project coordinator.

In the same way, cartography was generated that includes the georeferencing of genetically modified crops, fruit orchards, and plant species of interest for beekeeping and for beekeepers. "The system is a territorial visualization platform, as well as a tool for querying and managing georeferenced data, in addition to serving as a connector for other components developed in the project, concerning the flowering prediction model, the production simulator and the technical handling and management protocol", said Professor Carlos Mena, Director of the Geomatics Center and Assistant Director of this initiative. In addition, more than 400 users have been trained.



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