Wired Hive Counts Bees, Keeps Them Cozy

The world has a bee problem. Honey bees are a major pollinator for all sorts of tasty crops, but an estimated one-third of all colonies in the US have vanished since 2006. These mass disappearances are collectively known as Colony Collapse Disorder, and everything from pesticides to global warming to a new bee virus has been blamed for bees going MIA. Regardless of the cause, keeping the bees that do remain alive and pollinating is important work, and an intelligent bee hive could go a long way toward that goal.

Normally, bee hives are a black – err, white –  box, where the bees go about their business without revealing much about it. While bees are amazing animals with an incredibly rich social structure that allows them to, for instance, team together to ventilate a too-warm hive with their wings, or gang up on invading predators, they have their limits, and knowing what’s going on in the hive helps the beekeeper to maintain an optimal environment. [Miguel’s] system, which appears to still be in the prototyping phase, aims to provide the beekeeper with data on temperature and humidity within each hive. GPS tagging allows the beekeeper to track where a hive is, which is important since hives are moved around as various crops begin to flower. The system can even keep track of the comings and goings of bees using photoelectric sensors; while [Miguel] doesn’t go into detail, we imagine that aspect working something like this bee counter we featured a few years back. And being from Portugal, [Miguel] has incorporated cork into the design of the hive, a sustainable material available locally and offering great thermal properties.

Sounds like [Miguel] is onto something here. The bees need all the help they can get, and anything that improves their husbandry will go a long way toward keeping the world fed. We’ll be watching to see where [Miguel] takes this system.

19 thoughts on “Wired Hive Counts Bees, Keeps Them Cozy

  1. I don’t want to sound mean, but the “How it works” page essentially says: “we hook up your beehives and you can then monitor them”. So for me, this is vaporware. Literally using “Cloud makes the bridge between you and your colonies” doesn’t increase my trust, either; that’s a bit too buzzwordy for me.

  2. Traditionally the three things a beekeeper wants to know are weight, temperature, and humidity. Temporal and spatial granularity can be very low and still provide useful data for making hive management decisions. Small, cheap sensors make these measurements possible. Remote sensing and reporting could be useful for large commercial operations with hives in many locations. Instrumenting a hive opens all sorts of possibilities. I’m already planning a winter project to build a weight-sensing and reporting hive stand. The concept is a no-brainer — the execution of something sufficiently rugged is another matter.

  3. As a beekeeper I know that probably the greatest problem for honeybees is the varroa destructor mite. People keep trying to link the problem to “global warming” and pesticides. While I don’t doubt that these things do present challenges to bees, everyone in the honeybee community is working to develop methods to control the varroa mites, not pesticides. Purdue University has a project they call the Queen Bee project. This project is focused on breeding queens with the specific trait of good grooming, which is to remove the mites from othe bees. They call them “ankle biters”.

    Unless this is a travelling hive, I don’t see the need for a gps module. I do agree that the temperature, humidity, and weight are important things to know. I am working on a similar project of my own, however, it’s not this far along.

  4. This beehive is thermally insulated, so that the bees do not suffer so much with the external climatic variations. In addition to the monitoring system, the hive helps improve the condition of bees.

      1. We are testing these for 2 years, and the results are promising, however, this beehive does not cool or heat, it is insulated in order to not disturb the bees in any way

    1. Instead of a load cell, and its associated cost/electronics; how about a slight imbalance to the hive, so that when it gets loaded up with so much hunny [sp] the weight shifts the hive slightly on to a microswitch.

  5. We’re about to launch our products on Indiegogo. Now you can mark your calendar the 7th of September to be part of our campaign. We’ll release some more details meanwhile, but to make sure you receive all the news you should subscribe our newsletter and follow us on social networks.

  6. Beehive can be decompose as multiple objects with they ones chars.

    A populate beehive is :
    – Nest = Bees + Queeen > what’s race of bee ? what is the pedigree of the queen ? F0, F1 … ? > Are we able to log the feeding, the prophylaxis ?

    – Hive = which model ? (Dadant, Warre, Langstroth ….)

    Imagine a Langstroth, so :

    Hive = Bottom board + n * super + feeder + inner cover + cover + n * m frames (an n * m foundations > what sort of wax ? who sell this wax ? n+2 supers or n & n+1 supers ? …)

    Each of these parts must be manage individually and collectively to be able to “control” the process.

    In addition we must consider the location of the hive, his weight, temperature, humidity, internal sounds, the weather, the local ecosystem.

    All these parameters need to be addressed in a real & digital pow.

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