Bridging the Gap between Field Experiments and Machine Learning: The EC H2020 B-GOOD Project as a Case Study towards Automated Predictive Health Monitoring of Honey Bee Colonies

J.A. van Dooremalen*, Z.N. Ülgezen, Raffaele Dall’Olio, Ugoline Ugoline Godeau, Xiaodong Duan, José Paulo Sousa, Marc Oliver Schäfer, Alexis Beaurepaire, Pim van Gennip, Marten Schoonman, Claude Claude Flener, Severine Matthijs, David Claeys Boúúaert, Wim Verbeke, Dana Freshley, D.J. Valkenburg, G.B.M. van den Bosch, F. Schaafsma, Jeroen Peters, Mang XiYves Le Conte, Cedric Alaux, Anne Dalmon, Robert John Paxton, Anja Tehel, Tabea Streicher, Daniel Dezmirean, Alexandru-Ioan Giurgiu, Christopher John Topping, James Henty williams, Nuno Capela, Sara Lopes, Fátima Alves, Joana Alves, João Bica, Eva Horčičková, Sandra Simões, António Alves da Silva, Sílvia Castro, João Loureiro, Martin Bencsik, Adam McVeigh, Tarun Kumar, Arrigo Moro, April van Delden, Elżbieta Ziółkowska, Filipiak Filipiak, Łukasz Mikołajczyk, Kirsten Leufgen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Honey bee colonies have great societal and economic importance. The main challenge that beekeepers face is keeping bee colonies healthy under ever-changing environmental conditions. In the past two decades, beekeepers that manage colonies of Western honey bees (Apis mellifera) have become increasingly concerned by the presence of parasites and pathogens affecting the bees, the reduction in pollen and nectar availability, and the colonies’ exposure to pesticides, among others. Hence, beekeepers need to know the health condition of their colonies and how to keep them alive and thriving, which creates a need for a new holistic data collection method to harmonize the flow of information from various sources that can be linked at the colony level for different health determinants, such as bee colony, environmental, socioeconomic, and genetic statuses. For this purpose, we have developed and implemented the B-GOOD (Giving Beekeeping Guidance by computational-assisted Decision Making) project as a case study to categorize the colony’s health condition and find a Health Status Index (HSI). Using a 3-tier setup guided by work plans and standardized protocols, we have collected data from inside the colonies (amount of brood, disease load, honey harvest, etc.) and from their environment (floral resource availability). Most of the project’s data was automatically collected by the BEEP Base Sensor System. This continuous stream of data served as the basis to determine and validate an algorithm to calculate the HSI using machine learning. In this article, we share our insights on this holistic methodology and also highlight the importance of using a standardized data language to increase the compatibility between different current and future studies. We argue that the combined management of big data will be an essential building block in the development of targeted guidance for beekeepers and for the future of sustainable beekeeping.
Original languageEnglish
Article number76
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2024


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