Monitoring components

Major Hive Monitoring Components

Any colony health monitoring system will have five major components:

Furthermore, the sensing and transmitting components, and perhaps the analyzing component, may be located far from conventional sources of electricity and need their own reliable power supply.

For colonies that are far away, even across the back yard, the full set of monitoring components listed above is required. However, for a hive that is in your house, such as an observation hive, things can be much simpler. You will learn a lot about designing the sensor part of your system if you observe the colony first hand as you simultaneously monitor the corresponding sensor data.

For example, consider monitoring hive weight. With an indoor observation hive, you can weigh the hive daily using an inexpensive electronic bathroom scale. Simultaneously, you can observe the combination of bees, brood, and stores that make up the colony’s weight and consider further sensors that might disambiguate the contribution of each component.

Here are a number of authoritative information sources on honey bee observation hives:

  • The Bee Peeker What to  consider before building or buying a honey bee observation hive, links to books and online  instruction sheets for setting up observation hives, and sources of observation hives available for purchase online.


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Major Monitoring Component – Sensing A number of colony attributes can, if sensed, provide useful information to the beekeeper. And the value of each sensor increases when combined with other sensors. Some of the attributes amenable to being monitored include: hive weight, feed consumption, brood volume, colony acoustics, honey presence, flight & landing board activity, …


Transmitting (and Analyzing) Data The tasks of transmitting data and analyzing data are closely inter-related. Both these factors affect power consumption, which is addressed in a separate section. For example, suppose the brood chamber of a single hive contains 32 temperature sensors, each one sampling the temperature every fifteen minutes: One data transmission-and-analysis scenario would …


Analysis Analysis turns raw data into colony activities and events that are meaningful to beekeepers. For example, if 2/3 of the temperature sensors in the brood chamber register a constant 35ºC (95ºF), it means that 2/3 of the brood chamber contains brood, as bees maintain their brood at that temperature, and the analysis should generate …


Reporting and Visualizing the Data Initially, the results of data analysis should be presented to the beekeeper in a manner that enables her to take action. For example, some beekeeper’s questions the analysis might address are: What’s happening right now, for example, bear attack, swarm, … What’s happening this this week or this season, for …

Storing/Sharing data

Sharing data By pooling and sharing colony data, beekeepers can develop local best practices for honey production and colony health. Furthermore, bee researchers can make good use of the data, especially if it is captured with their needs in mind. Finally, other researchers, such as climate change researchers can use the data. For example, one …

Power supply

Power Supply Public Power Supply Colony health monitoring systems have several alternatives to a supply of power. First is the electricity available from the public power supply. This is typically available to backyard beekeepers and to apiaries near human-occupied areas. Using this power will require running a line to the colonies being monitored. In the …