NVDA: Saves Bees


Why Deep Learning May Prove to Be the Bee’s Knees
March 23, 2018 by TONY KONTZER
In Bee Movie, an animated feature from 2007, a friendship between a bee (voiced by Jerry Seinfeld) and a young woman (Renee Zellweger) leads to the world’s bee population reclaiming the honey it produces.

A decade later, a young woman who is real and with a self-described “penchant for cute, round things” — working with NVIDIA engineers and GPU-powered deep learning — may help to minimize the impact of a destructive parasite and lead to domesticated bees being returned to the almond-shape hive design that serves them so well in the wild.

Jade Greenberg, a 17-year-old junior at Pascack Hills High School in Bergen County, N.J., zeroed in on honey bees and the causes of colony collapse as the subject of a research project for her molecular genetics class.

Eventually, Greenberg focused on the threat posed by Varroa mites, a parasite thought to be one of the most frequent causes of collapses of domestic hives. Her research has led her to postulate that the long-accepted design of the Langstroth hive — the cabinet-like standard since its introduction in the 1850s — is a big reason Varroa mites have become such a big problem…

…A variety of deep learning and machine learning technologies — including NVIDIA’s Jetson TX2 development kit, an NVIDIA DGX Station, TensorRT, a high-performance deep learning inference optimizer and the Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit deep learning framework — combine to rapidly detect and warn against the presence of Varroa mites…

…Armed with this extra information, which is converted into useful charts and graphs using Kinetica’s GPU-accelerated insight engine, Greenberg moved steadily from simply studying the problem to crafting a solution…

…Greenberg, who explains her work in a video below, has been using the data collected with the NVIDIA technology to guide her efforts to design a better hive. She’s learned that the different sizes and shapes of the entrances, the contrast with the natural almond shape of wild hives, and the fact that the queen is separated from the rest of the colony are potentially fatal flaws of the Langstroth hive design.

She also suggested that the larger spaces that bees occupy allow other mite-infected insects, such as moths, to enter the hive and become trapped, leading to further infestation.

In other words, AI is enabling Greenberg to pull back the curtain on the Langstroth hive’s failings, which may have been underestimated before now.

“It tells us in what ways the Langstroth hive is failing us when it comes to Varroa mite infestation,” she said.

It also is helping Greenberg refine her design, which, to be viable in the commercial beekeeping arena, must improve hive health while preserving the commercial capabilities of the Langstroth hive.

Very interesting that a 17-year-old high school student armed with NVDA AI hardware and software can identify and potentially solve a problem that’s been plaguing the bee industry for years.



I can’t be sure I understand how AI and observation can model something in a hive that has been missed so far, but I keep bees and can readily assert that hive design is unlikely to address colony collapse disorder.

Varroa infestations are plainly a frequent cause of hie death in the USA and most other places (except Australia.) Infestations are common among “Italian” bees (actually Southern European, the most common honey bee in the USA) while “Russian” bees (Siberians, which evolved with the varroa mite in Eurasia) are, as the term is used, “hygenic” in that the bees have a couple of mite suppression instincts and do not suffer from the weaknesses mite infestations cause. Colony collapse is a relatively new phenomena and appears to have various causes, weather being a common issue. The young lady might want to study up on bees a little, feral honey bees bees have a very poor survival profile, there are many species of bees but no indigenous honey bees. Varroa can be controlled and the improvements are in process to avoid the current non-lethal but harmful control methods.

Smaller hives multiply swarms, which have a 75% mortality rate or more.

I mostly lurk on this board, sorry that I don’t know much about stocks, but I know a little about bees.



Note that the blog did not say the study results were actually implemented and the issue improved. It was just a classroom study that the 17 year old did. As an academic training project most excellent. In regard to improving the state of bee farming, perhaps of no consequences, although who knows what the idea might spawn.

I think the big take away is that the power of AI is coming down to the point that even very intelligent and ambitious 17 year olds can now take advantage of it.

Now the question becomes, since it was done on a GPU, would a less generalized chip, with perhaps better power consumption attributes, have been able to produce such a result? Like the CPU, the general purpose chip does seem to be indispensable. I guess it depends on how large the general purpose market is vs. the specific use case. Microsoft with the FPGA is trying to have both, because they do have the ability to reporogram the FPGAs, I doubt this high school student, or most enterprise customers would have the capability to reprogram FPGAs for each project, but perhaps a specific use case could replace GPUs.