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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, and pheromone status.

Infra-red Imagery

Infra-red Imagery Jerry Bromenshenk has written an excellent series on the use of infra-red photography by beekeepers for Bee Culture magazine. Infrared: The Next Generation in Colony Management: http://www.beeculture.com/infrared-the-next-generation-in-colony-management Should An Infrared Camera Be in Your Toolkit? http://www.beeculture.com/should-an-infrared-camera-be-in-your-toolkit Professional IR Cameras: http://www.beeculture.com/professional-ir-cameras-2

Hive weight

Hive weight The weight of a hive, or more precisely, the weight of the bees and honey it contains, and their rate of change compared to the weights and changes of other colonies nearby, may be the single most informative measurement one can obtain with colony monitoring technology. A precise hive weight supplants the time-honored …

Feed consumption

Feed consumption In the past, bees stored enough feed, in the form of pollen and honey, for their own year-round use and usually stored a surplus for the beekeeper to harvest. However modern agricultural and apicultural practices often require that bees be fed. Bees prefer to consume nectar and their own honey, so the consumption …

Brood volume

Brood volume and winter cluster Bees expend a lot of effort in raising more bees, and bee brood volume is an excellent measure of colony health. Fortunately, bees maintain their brood at a constant temperature, 35C (95F), so brood volume is easy to measure with a matrix of temperature sensors in the brood box. The …

Colony acoustics

Colony acoustics Everyone knows that bees buzz. Not everyone knows that bees’ buzz carries meaning. Experienced beekeepers, though, can tell something about their hives by listening carefully as they approach them. Colony Acoustics Patents Patents have been granted to those who interpret bee buzzing: To measure the degree of mite infection: System for monitoring hive …

Honey presence

Honey presence The main ingredients of honey are glucose and fructose. For diabetics, who must monitor the level of glucose in their blood, continuous glucose monitors have been developed. It seems plausible that these monitors could be adapted to detect the presence of honey in the parts of the hive designated to store honey. A …

Entrance activity

Entrance activity Entrance activity monitors can be grouped by the type of sensor and the variety of activities they can (potentially) monitor. The most broadly capable activity monitors are video-based. There is, however, only one of those on the market, Keltronix’ EyesOnHives, and at the moment it can only monitor the general level of activity …

Pheromone status

Pheromone status Bees communicate among themselves using pheromones. The ability to monitor the bees’ pheromone communication system would enable beekeepers to understand colony activity at a never-before-achieved level. The chemical environment of the hive is complex, perhaps too complex for there to be a pheromone sensor system in the near future. Nevertheless, the bees themselves …