After finding the swarm, he designates a new empty hive where the whole colony can access food, has shelter, honeycomb, and the conditions for a healthy life free from parasites or diseases.
Monitoring: from bee to hive and beyond
The solution supported by the u-blox module not only counts the bees but also performs the following tasks:
- Measure beehive traffic and activity, tracking bees in real time as they leave and return to the hive.
- Store statistical data for post-processing. Data for each day can be pulled out from the database, charted, and cross-correlated. Historical logs with timestamped events are also available.
- Predict the probability of extraordinary events, such as bee swarm formation and cross-colony robbing, based on algorithmic data processing.
- Send notifications and alerts to end users via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi technology.
- Measure environmental parameters, including temperature and humidity at the hive entrance, with rainfall data from state radar raw data.
In addition to the usual detection of worker or drone bees and tracking their age and movements within the hive, Jaka can also identify customized bee markers.
This allows him to have a more in-depth understanding of their behavior for research and hive observation, such as:
- Drone bee behaviors
- Worker bee behaviors, foraging flight durations, and counts
- Virgin queen bee behavior: mating flight durations and counts
- Mated queen bee detection: formation of a new bee swarm
Diving into the numbers
The first graph illustrates the number of bees exiting and entering the hive over time. It also presents the total activity, a sum of ins and outs. The peak marks the precise moment when a new bee colony was born – a bee swarm formed and exited the hive.
The second graph informs Jaka about the swarm size, which, in this case, is approximately 4,000 bees. The third graph shows the moment the marker triggers a signal when the device detects the queen bee leaving the hive.
Jaka can also extract all the data for a specific day, like a hot summer day, to generate a graph that effectively illustrates the behavior of bee traffic. This graph enables him to discern clear correlations between bee traffic and temperature: the warmer it gets, the more active the bees become.
The second graph depicts bee traffic versus humidity. On a rainy day, humidity levels increase, and bee activity is reduced.
Who says you can’t fly with grounded wings
This project is far from complete. While his prototype successfully supplies the necessary data, Jaka is eager to enhance its functionalities.
Imagine the possibilities if he could connect his beehive at home with the other 210,000 beehives in Slovenia and monitor the movements of bees across the country. What about the benefits of going a step further and creating a European network of beehives?
Enhancing Jaka’s application involves integrating positioning and cellular technology. The next step is incorporating a GNSS module for geolocation and a cellular module for transmitting data to the remote cloud while retaining Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for local connectivity in his proof of concept.
“Essentially, the solution is in the house.”
Tracking bees' behavior in real-time would offer the opportunity to ensure the reproduction of the species and gain insights into the current state of entire ecosystems.
Industrial farming and the use of pesticides, as well as sporadic events that harm the environment, are often linked to the behavior of bees. Therefore, having access to this information would be incredibly valuable, enabling proactive measures to prevent or address harmful situations.
Colony’s final thoughts
In the past, bee swarms could find a new home and survive in nature independently. But more recently, human activities have increasingly altered this process. Factors such as pesticides, habitat loss, climate change, parasites, and monoculture agriculture have disrupted this natural cycle.
Nowadays, without human intervention, a new bee swarm has less than a 25% chance of surviving the first winter. This percentage continues to decline, and at the current pace, bees will eventually rely solely on human assistance for reproduction.
Jaka is an innovator who, in his spare time, enjoys beekeeping. He inherited this hobby from his father and is passionate about contributing to a more sustainable future.
Coincidentally, Jaka has developed a bee monitoring solution using the technology he is most familiar with. As they say, when life gives you lemons, make the tastiest lemonade possible.