Researching bee health and behaviour

Arnia has been working with scientists and supplying universities with hive monitoring equipment since early 2011. We offer an economically viable solution suited to wide scale field trials or geographical studies investigating issues relating to bee health and bee behaviour.

Data is collected consistently and reliably. It can be accessed, viewed and downloaded remotely. User hierarchy offers various levels of access rights. The key researcher has full access and control of all monitors and their settings, students can view and download data while beekeepers can view monitor information only. Using the monitors also helps recruit beekeepers into studies and maintains their interest as the hive monitoring system brings them the benefits of our standard bee husbandry monitoring package.

We are interested to collaborate with universities and other R&D organisations on bee research projects. Please contact us  to find out more about how our technology can contribute to your bee research or if you would like to discuss any potential R&D projects.

Why automate bee data collection?

  • Consistency: Measurements are taken in the same way every time minimising variation in sensor settling times and probe positions. Moreover, it eliminates the risks associated with subjective interpretation of things like activity; not only between beekeepers own colonies but particularly from beekeeper to beekeeper.
  • Reliability: Data collection is not dependent on operator availability or weather conditions. Risks associated with human error are eliminated, either adding the measurements onto record cards or moving it from the record cards into a database. All data is time-stamped to the nearest second at the time of measurement. No one has to remember to take measurements and no one can make them up if they forget!
  • Cost: Once set up the running costs are minimal as visits to the sites to take measurements and/or to collect the data are greatly reduced.
  • Scalable: The technology is truly scalable; the number of hives monitored is not restricted by the human resource to collect and manage the data.

BK-Pro-Hunidity-Comparison960

What can be measured? 

We have sensors to measure:

  • Sound
  • Vibration
  • Hive temperature
  • Hive humidity
  • Brood temperature
  • Hive weight
  • Hive movement (knocked over or moved/stolen)
  • Meteorological: Rainfall, Temperature, and Sunshine.

The monitors are also capable of support additional sensors, such as external accelerometers (including 24V PSU), CO2 and third party bee counts.

How can our bee hive monitors help your experiment?

Effect of internal factors on the bee colony status

The monitors allow you to compare hive homeostasis, colony development, map daily flight and fanning activity and assess the efficiency of nectar collection and processing. This should be useful when trying to compare, assess or quantify differences between bee colonies affected with things like: pests and parasites (Varroa, Acarine, Nosema, Small Hive Beetle, Wax Moth, Tropilaelaps etc.), viruses (DWV, CBPV, APV etc.) bacterial infections (EFB, AFB etc.), fungal infections (chalk brood, stone brood etc.) exposure to chemicals (hive treatments, pesticides), supplementing nutrition, evaluating genetic strains. In this type of experiment, the bees tend to be at the same location to minimise climactic and external environmental differences.

Effect of the external environmental factors on the status of the bee colony

BK-Pro-Brood-Temp-+-Hive-Temp

Arnia’s hive monitoring system can also be used to study the influence of external environmental factors on colonies in different locations, for instance managed agricultural land, unmanaged countryside, urban environments etc. while monitoring the colonies, the system also monitors meteorological conditions at each site (max/min air temperatures, temp in sun, temp in shade, amount of sunshine and rainfall). This information is critical if a relative comparison of colony development is going to be made. In this scenario while the environmental conditions differ, the bee colonies studied need to be as similar as possible. If the number or location of the colonies in this experiment is restricted by manual collection of data, automation would allow you to scale the experiment up considerably, to anywhere in the country/world!

Most solutions lie between these two extremes. Arnia is staffed by experienced beekeepers that also have expertise in electronic engineering, signal processing, acoustics and biological sciences.  We can also provide help and advice in experimental design, supply raw bee sound data and provide data aggregation services.

Other features of the hive monitoring system

Hive Homeostasis: Assess how well the bees maintain hive homeostasis. The brood temperature probe will tell you how well the bees thermoregulate the brood area. Not only will the humidity probe allow you to compare how well the hive is being ventilated in general, the humidity data can also tie in with nectar processing.

Hive Activity: As the amount of sound tends to be proportional to the amount of bees, you can monitor colony development throughout the year. You can see how the colony builds in the spring and reduces in the autumn. Furthermore, you can see how responsive the bees are to changes in nectar flow (from a colony development perspective). In the shorter term you can compare things like circadian rhythms as we have a theory that stressed bees do not rest as well at night.

Flight and Fanning activity: This allows you to map/profile the daily flight activity. You can not only see the amount of flight, but also who gets going first in the morning and who stops first at night. In conjunction with the hive scales, you can assess how fruitful/efficient this flight has been.

Weight: This will allow you to map/profile the change in weight throughout the day and night. Like all measurements, the resolution of this data collection can be easily and remotely adjusted from the comfort of the user interface. You can watch the weight rise as the nectar come is and watch it fall as the nectar is processed during the night. Not only can you quantify the total amount and the time at which the nectar is collected, you can also map/compare/correlate flight activity with the nectar’s arrival and fanning activity with nectar processing.

Colony Management: Using the brood temperature you can monitor if your queen is or has started laying. The system can be configured to send automatic alert if the colony becomes broodless. You can also set alerts for maximum weights (when its time to add a super) and minimum weight (when you need to feed them in the winter). From a colony management perspective alerts for changes in weight are also useful. A negative change in weight most often means the hive is being robbed (by bees) or the bees have swarmed.

Please contact us  to find out more about how our hive monitors can contribute to your bee research or if you would like to discuss any potential R&D projects.