How To Weigh A Bee Hive

Did you know weighing bee hives was even necessary? Of course it is. Monitoring hive weight can tell a beekeeper a lot about the size of the swarm, their harvesting habits, and the yield they are producing.

We had to cover this hack because it’s a fine piece of engineering. [Trearick] designed a bee hive scale that lifts one side of the hive to calculate weight. Using easy to find metal brackets, a hinge, a pulley, and some plywood he built a prying device. The three teeth slip in between the hive and its base and can be separated by squeezing together the plywood handles on the opposite side. This lifts one end of the hive, measuring the force needed to do so using a luggage scale. The readout should be roughly 1/2 the total hive weight. This measurement takes seconds to complete, uses a bulb level on the scale to help ensure consistency, and creates little or no disturbance to our flying friends.

It’s nice to see a Hymenoptera hack that helps in giving bees a healthy place to live, instead of killing wasps.

14 thoughts on “How To Weigh A Bee Hive

  1. He is awfully trusting of his bees to build uniform comb; split weigh schemes like this (picking up just one end and multiplying by 2) are usually used only for liquid where you can be sure the product will spread itself out uniformly. Even then they’re not legal for trade. This is a cheap and simple way to get a rough estimate but should not be confused with schemes that would actually return an accurate weight. (hint: pick the whole hive up from an overhead pulley; you only need to get all the legs clear of the ground.)

  2. I would think it would be far simpler (and far more accurate) to just put something under the hive that would lift it up slightly and weigh it in the process. Something akin to a light-weight version of a floor jack comes to mind.

  3. Didn’t people keep bees for at least 8000 years without weighing them?
    I mean simply saying you need to know doesn’t make it automatically true, you can easily see if a swarm is big or small I would guess, and hear too.

    In fact when going for an estimate how about a sound analysis? You can keep a running mic and filter it for bees frequencies and make a nice graph to see how many are home and how excited they are and what not, that might give novel info not considered before even – having hourly daily monthly and yearly graphs.

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