Big Data for Bees

14 12 2018
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02 december
14 & 15 December 2018
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Event details

Aanmelden tot:
Register until:
02 december
14 & 15 December 2018
Event fee:
Voor wie:
For whom?

data scientists, tech-savvies, creatives and domain experts

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JADS Mariënburg Campus
Sint Janssingel 92
5211 DA 's-Hertogenbosch
The Netherlands

foto nutreco vlaggen


“I think that the bees are the tip of the iceberg that tell us so much about the pulse of this earth we live on” (Liberal arts and biology professor Anne Marie Fauvel)


We are very proud to present our next collaboration: the BigData4Bees hackathon! On the 14th and 15th of December, at the Campus of the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science, we will be delving into Big Data and Bees with pre selected teams that are committed to building data driven solutions using big data technologies to help save the bees!


The 30 hour hackathon is dedicated to support the goals of the “National Bee Strategy”. This strategy aims to ensure that pollinators and pollination are sustainably promoted and retained by 2030. We will use Big Data to help partners to work on the systematic and structural improvement of the habitat for all pollinators.


The hackathon is powered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality. We are collaborating with distinguished partners, such as Naturalis, the national research institute for biodiversity, Wageningen University and Research and JADS, The Jheronimus Academy of Data Science.

Reputation: There is one species of bee. Bees are yellow and black. Bees dance. Bees make honey. Bees die when they sting you.

Reality: There are around 20,000 species, only one of which is the common honeybee. They come in many colours. Most bees don't dance. Only a few species make honey. For most bees, stinging does not mean death. Some never sting.

(ref BBC)


We are looking for you!

Hacker. Noun. "A person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary." - The Jargon File


For the Big Data for Bees hackathon, we are looking for:

  • Data scientists (Python, R) and machine learning experts
  • Frontend developers (Angular, React, Vue, etc) and UX/UI experts
  • App developers: Android, iOS
  • Data governance experts
  • Subject-matter-experts and business developers
  • Open Source enthusiasts


We are mobilizing either existing teams or individuals that want to be part of a new (interdisciplinary) team. This hackathon will offer you a unique opportunity to work with data donors, big data experts and committed challengers. There is also prize money and dedicated support for the winning team!


Bees are vital to life on earth and the global economy as they pollinate many essential crops. But their numbers are falling. Data analysis is being used to discover why, and more importantly, what we could do to fix it. One of the most critical components are large amounts of interchangeable standardized data related to bees, bee health, and hive outcomes. Big Data will be instrumental in developing new solutions to help recover and maintain healthy bee populations and a living planet.


To understand the goal of the Big Data for Bees hackathon, please imagine the following (Quote by Joseph Cazier & Walter Haefeker):

“Imagine that we have hundreds of thousands of beekeepers diligently recording, either through human observation or remote sensing, the state of their bees. Let’s further imagine that we can match this data to weather patterns from local weather stations in each area. Let’s again imagine that we can use satellite images to look at the infrared reflective light pattern of plants growing in the area and identify which crops or natural plants are around a hive. Next, let’s assume we can extrapolate likely pesticide use near by, based on all of these factors (or, even better, records of actual use). Finally, let’s imagine what could be done with hundreds of thousands of beekeepers around the world reliably sending primary data to a place that could merge them with secondary data and analyze them.”



In October there will be two dedicated workshops to prepare for the hackathon. The first one is targeted to scientists working in relevant fields, and the second workshop is dedicated to the affiliated partners of the National Bee Strategy. These workshops are used to further define and prepare the challenges and corresponding data for the hackathon in December.

You can join the dicussion on the challenges on our FarmHack Forum. 

For now, please consider the following options:


In order for our initiative to have a greater impact and contribute even more to the overarching goals of theDutch Pollinator strategy, and also to have our initiative systemically contribute to the pool of research data on pollinators, we want to make our initiative SMARTer (= Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic, Time-related) and also improve our ability to monitor our SMARTer goals. Part of the challenge is to take into account regional differences in potency for the occurrence of bee species.

Challenger: Annette Piepers, Bijenlandschap


The idea is to empower the large number of societal and other initiatives that want to do ‘something’ for bees, but lack practical knowledge about soil-plant-bee-relations and bee friendly management. The necessary data and knowledge is available, but scattered in institutions and around the internet. The idea is to build a serious game that allows users learn about relevant soil, plant and bee relations and bee friendly management. And even induce (regional) collaboration and finetuning between stakeholders, to induce and facilitate smart and effective bee friendly seeding and mowing practices.

Challenger: Sonne Copijn, Bee Foundation


The challenge I want to submit is to make infrastructure and construction projects as bee friendly as possible, and adjust them to regional pollinator requirements. Conversations with contractors, municipalities and provinces make clear that a tool capable of helping them would be welcomed and may be integrated in their decision making processes to make optimal use of opportunities for biodiversity (bees, pollinators, plants) in their projects?

Challenger: Koos Biesmeijer, Naturalis


Build decision support tools to help beekeepers with evidence-based decision-making!

The decision support for beekeepers challenge will focus on honey bees. What are the relevant relationships with environmental factors, and how can they be translated into a tool that helps beekeepers to optimise their hyves locations? A valuable result would be to enable a beekeeper to click on a location to get a suitability score, including explanatory parameters such as low plant gestation in autumn. A valuable additional feature would be to allow beekeepers to upload relevant insights and experiences in a particular location, give feedback on the score, or even allow access to data on how much honey he yielded and the number of colonies he kept.


We have a data set that contains 18,000 observations with pictures of bumblebees, collected in last 15. This challenge however is not targeted at the bumblebees in the pictures,  but at the many unidentified flowers in the background. We have already enriched the data set with machine prediction of “phenology” (flowering, vegetative, “no plant”), that allowed us to make annotations (~2,500) and predictions (18,000) using the NOUS platform. The challenge for this hackathon is to discover unknown relations in the dataset or with other datasets, for example preference of bumblebee for plant species, relation between visits to flower and time of day/season or relations with GIS datasets.

Challenger: Laurens Hogeweg, Naturalis


We need smart rewarding schemes to support farmers for nature inclusive farming. The Biodiversity Monitor for Dairy Farming uses Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the environmental performance of dairy farms. If we can measure it, we can reward farmers for their performance for nature and contribute to new business models for farmers.  An important indicator is herb rich grassland, which also has a positive effect on aboveground biodiversity, such as nectar as food for bees. Earlier this year during the Rewarding Nature hackathon we looked into machine learning techniques and satellite data (optical and radar) to provide new insights. The idea for the Big Data for Bees hackathon is to develop an additional building block for the Biodiversity Monitor that focuses on wild pollinators.


The hackathon offers a unique opportunity to work with other tech savy creatives, state of the art Big Data experts and lovers of bees. We offer you all the ingredients to kickstart your start up or speed up your existing one by offering you a carefree hacking experience, including structured, robust and easy-to-use data, exciting new data, well defined challenges, access to successful startups and BigData4Bees experts.


Furthermore, the hackathon offers you a unique opportunity to work with representatives from distinguished partners, such as Naturalis, the national research institute for biodiversity, Wageningen University and Research and JADS, The Jheronimus Academy of Data Science.


After 30 hours you and your team can pitch your results (prototype app’s, visualizations, etc) to an honorary jury and get support for further development of your idea. The winners of the hackathon will be rewarded with prize money and support in their further development!


The program

day 1

After good mornings and coffees at the JADS Mariënburg Campus in Den Bosch, we will start the hackathon with pitches by the challengers, to present their question and supporting data. The pitches are followed by an international keynote speaker.


After ideation and team formation, the rest of the day offers dedicated hack time, occasionally interrupted for inspiration (intervision, expert consultation). For refreshment and blood circulation we will do a short (compulsory!) hike (or not).


In the afternoon there will be room for some pleasant wining & dining, during which we’ll have plenty of time to interact, pitch your ideas, and get some valuable feedback. After dinner we’ll be moonlight hacking. If you are feeling sleepy, we will feed you cafeine. Or you can roll out your sleeping bag. Or find a decent bed somewhere in the vicinity.

detailed programme

day 2

After an early breakfast we’ll start with pitches and intervision, backed by business development coaches, to kickstart your day. After that there is more hack time. Lunch will be on the go, especially for teams still coding their way to their set end point.


In the afternoon all teams will present their proof of concept, prototype or mock up to a jury  of esteemed partners and experts. After a short deliberation, the pitches are followed by an award ceremony. Followed by eternal glory (for some).

detailed programme



foto nutreco biggen