IoBee partner, Arnia, has developed an electronic monitoring system that allows beekeepers to become more intimate with their bees while disturbing them less.
By attaching various sensors to the hive, it changes the beekeeping labour in several ways. Thanks to a fully interconnected system, not only can beekeepers log in and see what and how their bees are doing at any specific time, but they can also receive timely alerts. For example, thanks to the scale, beekeepers can tell when they need to add a honey box. Also, using the various sensors provided by Arnia to the IoBee project, it is possible to tell if the colony goes queen-less or when the queen has mated and started laying again.
Furthermore, beekeepers can tell if there is ventilation during the winter, as well as analysing the natural availability around their hives. Thanks to the bee counter, which counts incoming and outgoing bees, they can also observe the performance of bees at different sites in collecting their honey.
How does it work?
The monitoring system includes different devices, each measuring a different parameter relevant to the hive, ensuring their functioning and communicating the data to the beekeeper through a cloud-based service.
– Bee Counter –
The bee counter is a device that is placed at the entrance of the hive and monitors bee traffic. Bee traffic comprises bees entering and leaving the hive. The counter has two light beams which the bee breaks as it goes in or out of the hive. The order in which the beams break denotes the direction of the bees’ travel, whether ingoing or outgoing. Thanks to this system, beekeepers can see the number of bees that leave the hive, separately from how many bees enter the hive.
– Gateway Unit –
The gateway unit periodically interrogates the counter to see how many bees it has counted, as well as all other sensors that the beekeeper includes in the system. After receiving the data from the sensors, the gateway unit sends the information over the cellular network which goes back to the cloud. Thanks to the online platform, beekeepers can access that data from any device with access to the internet.
– Battery –
The monitoring system works with a rechargeable external battery. It can be recharged either by a standard car charger or, to avoid the need for any maintenance, it may also include a solar panel that will keep the battery charged indefinitely. Thanks to this, beekeepers can focus on their bees and never really need to change the battery.
– Weather Pack –
Beekeepers can monitor weather conditions using the weather pack, a self-emptying rain gauge which also includes a sunshine-temperature sensor. The weather pack only requires to be mounted relatively levelled and plugged into the gateway unit.
Maintenance of the weather pack is simple. It only requires a bi-monthly cleaning, clearing any cumulus of leaves or insects in the entrance or under the lid.
– Scale –
Beekeepers can also gain insights from the weight. To measure the weight of the hive, beekeepers only need to place it on top of the hive-scale balance. The balance will periodically take weight measurements which beekeepers can correlate with the bee traffic.
Thanks to the use of the scale and its weight measurement, beekeepers can have a good idea of nectar availability.
While the bee counter lets beekeepers know how much work its bees are doing, from the bee traffic perspective, the output from the scales will tell them how productive that work has been. Thanks to this, beekeepers get an idea of natural availability or efficiency.