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To make the honey production in BiH more efficient, the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project supports the training of beekeepers in the use of an Electronic Beekeeping Diary and other innovative ICT solutions.

"It is very important for the beekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina to grasp the idea that the science and experts have the vision for how to help them, and make beekeeping more cost-effective, less demanding, and more profitable,” says Gorana Mirjanić and adds that those are all benefits of the cyber beekeeping which is yet to be introduced in the country.

Goran is the owner of Košnica, a producer of honey and beekeeping equipment and materials from Gradiška in Northern Bosnia, and the Professor at the Banja Luka University's School of Agriculture.

He, and three other experts, supported by the Sweden/USAID FARMA II project, are now delivering a training course for the beekeepers. It introduces an Electronic Beekeeping Diary, the first locally produced computer application for beekeepers, and additional ICT solutions that are currently in use in more developed countries.

Countrywide training that changes attitudes

According to Goran, introducing new technological solutions is not always easy. “We see that beekeepers, like many other people, do not react well to change and innovations. That is why in our training we present the progress of beekeeping practices. We start from the most primitive form of beekeeping, go over the exact beekeeping we can practice now, and come to the cyber beekeeping towards which we are moving. As we do this, we also talk about the health of beehives, an increase of honey yields and quality, and of course, about the financial implications of such a development and higher profits,” he explains and notes that in the EU profits in beekeeping have gone up by 20 to 30 percent thanks to the use of ICT.

Goran and his colleagues planned to hold twelve in-person training sessions, and reach as many as 600 beekeepers in Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, they had to adjust to the situation on the ground and move their training into the ICT domain and deliver it online.

They are now run a total of twelve webinars for the beekeepers association from Gradiška, Prijedor, Bihać, Živinice, Brčko, Bijeljina, Banja Luka, Livno, Doboj, Sarajevo, Mostar, and Trebinje. “Beekeepers are not used to this kind of work, and we may have much lower turnout. Nonetheless, we still have the great geographic coverage and we will plant the idea of the use of ICT solutions with a critical number of beekeepers who are showing affinity towards such a trend already by participating in the webinars.”

Starting with the Electronic Beekeeping Diary and getting ready for the future

Goran notes that some of the technological solutions such as the SMS scales for hives, which notify beekeepers about the quantity of the produced honey, or temperature, humidity, and audio sensors which can alert beekeepers about swarming or illnesses amongst bees, are still expensive and out of reach for many in BiH. However, a domestically produced application is already in place and will be made available for free, for one year, to all the webinars participants.

“We have developed an Electronic Beekeeping Diary. This application will enable beekeepers to record all the information about their hives directly into computers using mobile phones as an intermediary, i.e. through simple audio recordings. These audio recordings will be decoded by the application and all the data entered into a database, the electronic diary. The application will analyze the data and provide concrete information to beekeepers about what they need to do next with each of the hives in the colony,” explains Goran.

This means that the beekeepers will no longer need to make written records while in the field and then reenter this data into the computer manually or analyze it using pen and paper. The application will save them a lot of time and effort and make all the information readily available to them as they return home after a hard day's work.

“This is just the first step. I hope that our beekeepers will very soon start looking to use additional ICT solutions that can ease their work," says Goran. "The science in BiH is not far behind that of the EU, so I also hope that we will be able to develop additional domestic applications that will make our beekeeping more competitive and more profitable for all the beekeepers.”