Remote Bee Hive Monitoring

Remote hive monitoring by Arnia is space age technology for bees – all linked up to a central hub on the mother ship over the mobile phone network.
Of course there is no substitute for visiting the bees but a system like this could be very useful not only in preparing your next visit but also monitoring the results of your efforts from a safe distance.
A road test would be handy!

 Arnia System

The Arnia system consists of:
  • Hive Monitors – one per hive;
  • Weather Station – one per apiary;
  • Monitor Gateway – one per apiary;
  • User Interface – one per user;

Hive Monitors

Each hive is fitted with sensors to monitor:
  • Brood temperature;
  • Hive temperature;
  • Hive humidity;
  • Colony activity;
  • Weight.
‘How on earth can it measure activity?’ says you.  Good question. Well it does what you do – it cocks an electronic ear and deduces activity from the levels of flight noise and fanning noise and all that buzzing and ticking you hear going on when you put your ear to the back wall.
Hives can also be fitted with hive scales to measure changes in weight. This of course will tell you how much nectar is coming in per day, even per hour if you like. It will also tell you how much water is removed overnight as the nectar is ripened.
A sudden loss in weight can alert you to a hive being robbed – such cases may record a weight gain during the day but if this is followed by a big fall it could be due to robbers.

 Weather Station

An optional extra for each apiary site is a weather station which will record temperature, sunshine, cloud rainfall, wind etc.

Monitor Gateway

There is a Gateway for each apiary. It constantly gathers the data from all the hive monitors in an apiary plus the weather station data and transports it, once per day, over the mobile phone network to the Arnia hub where it is stored for your perusal later.

User Interface

The User Interface is where you access your data. It is hosted on the Arnia website and you log in over the internet via the device of your choice.
Below is a picture of the summary screen from a User Interface. Here’s what it does:
  • At the top, left to right, is weather data for the past week followed by battery status and signal strength;
  • Interlocked cogs icon – far right – accesses User Interface Settings;
  • The number of bees hovering over each hives indicates the degree of activity per hive;
  • The different coloured icons pinned to each hive access detailed graphs of brood temperature, humidity, activity and the ambient temperature of each hive;
  • The two hives on the right (below) are fitted with hive scales and the black icons access weight data.
Arnia Interface

How do you use it?

  • Comparison
  • Management
  • Alerts

Comparisons

With a system like this which gathers and stores so much detailed information the possibilities for analysis and comparison are endless.

In addition, your own hive inspection data such as queen ID, colony assessment and appraisals, disease data, Varroa counts etc etc can all be added into the pot.

Comparisons between hives, between apiaries and between years are vital to both short and long term projects such as bee breeding, research and good old-fashioned curiosity.

Here are a few possibles:

  • Comparison between hive types – poly or wood, commercial or national, mesh floor or solid in terms of humidity and temperature. This data could also be useful in conjunction with your own disease data i.e. chalk brood, Varroa, Acarine etc.;
  • Comparison between colonies in terms of timing and speed of build up, activity, colony size, swarming behaviour, honey production – very useful when selecting breeding material – especially in conjunction with queen lineage information;
  • Comparison between apiaries – to pinpoint best aspect, altitude, temperature, shade etc to maximise productivity vs swarm reduction etc.;
  • Comparison of weight data between years in conjunction with weather data and times of day when foraging is at a peak could help pinpoint tantalising stuff like the ideal weather for fickle nectar flows such as hawthorn or heather;

Management

Monitoring can give indications about what is happening out there in your out-apiaries and what you might be needing in terms of equipment, time and energy. Weather data can be used to see if it’s worth going at all!

  • Queen Status

Brood temperature is steady at 34 degrees C and is tracked by the monitors. This means you can spot a failing queen and/or monitor a virgin to see when she gets going and see that she keeps going. How annoying that is, when you find that the new queen you thought was going like a train and had left alone accordingly actually fizzled out two weeks ago.

Sudden erratic brood temperature also occurs if the queen gets into the supers – that’s annoying too – specially when she puts 2,000 eggs per day into your precious cut-comb?

If you treat your bees mid-winter with oxalic acid you will know that it is vital that the bees be broodless and the hive monitor will tell you this. Even if you were to monitor only your strongest hive going into winter it would give you some idea of the state of the brood in the others.

  • Weight Data
Summer – It is possible to monitor honey coming in and to know when to add more supers. Weight data can also be used to spot robbing and lost swarms and allow you to arrive at the apiary with all the right gear on board.
Winter – Spot when build up has begun and feeding is necessary
  • Activity Data 

Acoustic data can be used to detect robbing. I’ve heard it said that robbing doesn’t matter – you’re going to take the honey anyway but that’s not quite the point. For a start, the robbing might be by somebody else’s bees!

The other evil with robbing is that it can lead to the death of a nuc headed by a valuable young queen. It’s something that needs to be be nipped in the bud that is for sure. Early detection could be very useful.

Downloadable Data

All the data collected is downloadable in CSV (Comma Separated Values) format for use with Exel or the statistical package of your choice if you really want to go to town with the data.

SMS Alerts

Now this could be very useful.

A variety of systematic SMS or text message alerts can be set up by the user to warn of things such as unstable brood temperatures, humidity or sudden increases in weight which can indicate robbing or a prodigious flow.

Automatic SMS alarms will also go out when a monitor detects something such as theft of a hive or when a hive is overturned. Hives are often overturned in winter when branches fall or stock get in amongst; if the boxes burst asunder the bees can die of exposure if not found quickly. Like taxes and death – thieves are always out there!

As luck would have it – Arnia.co.uk have lent me a monitoring kit so a road test will follow. Watch this space…

Click here for how to make your own scale hive

Click here for more about scale hives 

Click here for Remote Hive Monitoring Action

Click here for Useful Arnia Hive Scale Data

 Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2016.  All Rights Reserved.

2 thoughts on “Remote Bee Hive Monitoring”

  1. Thank you for your fabulous blog post on our technology.
    We hope you find it useful in managing your colonies and would love to hear where the technology came in really handy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

seven + 14 =