Hive Weight Data

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
Joined
Sep 7, 2013
Messages
322
Reaction score
285
Location
Loughborough
Hive Type
14x12
Number of Hives
11
Hi All - I thought this might be interesting. There are a couple of surprises here, and it just goes to show that what you generally understand/perceive to be the case, is not always true.

I have today done some analysis on the hive monitoring data from my Warre hive, which is in my garden, and I treat as a bellweather. It has NOT swarmed this season. Furthermore, the data which is graphed below is based on rolling 7 day averages, and ignores days (of which there were maybe 4/5) where "weight affecting" interventions happened (i.e. box addition/removal). Before spreadsheeting the data, I always kind of "knew" that:

- we had a good spring flow (probably hawthorn in the main), which then ceased abruptly
- weight then plateaued and has been on a slowly decreasing path throughout August, but is now picking up

What the graph below does show clearly are periods of peak flow (not sure what the August one will have been - probably clover, once the rain stopped), and most interestingly the periods of net consumption, which show:
1) that there WAS a June gap (here at least - and contrary to general 'feeling'/perception)
2) For most of August and the start of September, the bees were consuming materially more than they were bringing in
1695048839760.png
However, by far the biggest surprise in all the data is the time of the day they are going out to forage. I had always thought that, once the sun was on the hive (say from 10 am-ish), there was generally a steady outflow of ladies from the hive into the fields; returning, say tea-time ish. Certainly, at 10-11 you might be sitting in front of a hive which is frenetically active. Based on what I had read, I had always wondered whether those mad periods were e.g. orientation/cleansing (as opposed to foraging).

Anyhow, this general belief has guided my practice - in that I always aim to inspect around lunchtime (on the basis that 'most of the angry girls are out').

That is NOT borne-out by the data.

What I am seeing in general is bulk-issuing of foragers at a certain time of day, and their gradual return. This is LATE; at the earliest at about 1pm, and at the latest around 5pm - in the main somewhere around 3pm, with roughly 1.5kg of bees issuing over a 10 minute period in each event.

Consistently.

Very interesting. I'd be interested in hearing sundry thoughts/reflections and experiences in relation to the above.
 

Attachments

  • 1695047679862.png
    1695047679862.png
    25.9 KB · Views: 3
Last edited:
Fascinating stuff, are you able to identify more clearly the nectar sources from the peak flows? Maybe if you get a honey analysis you could tie some of it together with a little more certainty. A fellow keeper up here uses, I think its called a hive heart, to monitor various things. It throws up some interesting ideas.
 
Fascinating stuff, are you able to identify more clearly the nectar sources from the peak flows? Maybe if you get a honey analysis you could tie some of it together with a little more certainty. A fellow keeper up here uses, I think its called a hive heart, to monitor various things. It throws up some interesting ideas.
Thanks Murox, the data above was collected by the scales which accompany a Hive Heart (which collects temperature, humidity and audio data - the latter being used to predict swarming). A fascinating little venture - just for the sake of it, really.

I am already 4 years into doing the NHMS, taking my honey samples in the first week of July. Somewhat fortuitously, I switched my sampling apiary this year, and my samples came from this very hive.

As such, next year, I should know, with some certainty, what the source of that major June flow was.

I am just blown away though by the revelation that most of the foragers have been leaving the hive in one big surge at about 3pm each day. Unexpected.
 
I am just blown away though by the revelation that most of the foragers have been leaving the hive in one big surge at about 3pm each day.
AAh! so check the ambient temps. and what plants produce nectar at certain temps and times. Great fun.
Not totally convinced about the swarming predictions, his hive didn't and wasn't preparing to, but it did alarm for something.
 
Some good data you got there.
It’s not unusual to see bees exiting or returning on mass. Survival of the fittest selects for those that are tuned into when the flower are yielding their nectar. I was recently surround by 1000’s of bee’s returning from the heather.

 
Last edited by a moderator:
Something like that it’s a common sight, I’ve had beginners call and say the hives swarming! There can be a very loud buzzing when multiple hives are doing it at the same time.
I have nine hives in a line. They always do it at the same time in the day but not all together.
 
This was my thoughts also , how long does it last half hour or so ?

So, I find it really confusing. The mass exodus happens within the space of 10 minutes. The monitor records weight snapshots every 10 minutes, and it invarably happens in one of these slots. ~1 to 2 kg of bee-weight is a lot of bees (or a lot of poo).

If it were cleansing, or even, I guess, orientation, then my expectation is that there would be a comensurate, and large-ish gain over the subsequent 10-minute slots as these bees return.

There is no such mass return recorded.

Instead, there is a steady net gain/loss duing the daylight hours either side of this time. The graphs below show two representative days during each of June/July, where the daily net gain/loss in total was in normal parameters (i.e. +/- 0.[something] kg). The net total inflow on each side of the "event" sums to ~1kg in each case, and comes in gradually (so, ~2kg gradually gained income in those periods). This is offset by the 3pm "event" (where, each of these cases ~-2kg went out of the door).

When I first saw this pattern in the data, I thought is was probably a cast swarm issuing - even though I am adamant in my assertion that this hive had not swarmed.

Anyhow, it's not an occasional happening. This pattern is replicated ~80 times across the season - i.e. it repeats on pretty much every single viable flying day.

Example graphs are below.

Weight Change Examples.png
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm :unsure:
 
So, I find it really confusing. The mass exodus happens within the space of 10 minutes. The monitor records weight snapshots every 10 minutes, and it invarably happens in one of these slots. ~1 to 2 kg of bee-weight is a lot of bees (or a lot of poo).

If it were cleansing, or even, I guess, orientation, then my expectation is that there would be a comensurate, and large-ish gain over the subsequent 10-minute slots as these bees return.

There is no such mass return recorded.

Instead, there is a steady net gain/loss duing the daylight hours either side of this time. The graphs below show two representative days during each of June/July, where the daily net gain/loss in total was in normal parameters (i.e. +/- 0.[something] kg). The net total inflow on each side of the "event" sums to ~1kg in each case, and comes in gradually (so, ~2kg gradually gained income in those periods). This is offset by the 3pm "event" (where, each of these cases ~-2kg went out of the door).

When I first saw this pattern in the data, I thought is was probably a cast swarm issuing - even though I am adamant in my assertion that this hive had not swarmed.

Anyhow, it's not an occasional happening. This pattern is replicated ~80 times across the season - i.e. it repeats on pretty much every single viable flying day.

Example graphs are below.

View attachment 37686
Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm :unsure:
Interesting did you do any observations at the hive entrance if it happened 80 times through out the season you would of clocked some useful information .
 
Hi All - I thought this might be interesting. There are a couple of surprises here, and it just goes to show that what you generally understand/perceive to be the case, is not always true.

I have today done some analysis on the hive monitoring data from my Warre hive, which is in my garden, and I treat as a bellweather. It has NOT swarmed this season. Furthermore, the data which is graphed below is based on rolling 7 day averages, and ignores days (of which there were maybe 4/5) where "weight affecting" interventions happened (i.e. box addition/removal). Before spreadsheeting the data, I always kind of "knew" that:

- we had a good spring flow (probably hawthorn in the main), which then ceased abruptly
- weight then plateaued and has been on a slowly decreasing path throughout August, but is now picking up

What the graph below does show clearly are periods of peak flow (not sure what the August one will have been - probably clover, once the rain stopped), and most interestingly the periods of net consumption, which show:
1) that there WAS a June gap (here at least - and contrary to general 'feeling'/perception)
2) For most of August and the start of September, the bees were consuming materially more than they were bringing in
View attachment 37666
However, by far the biggest surprise in all the data is the time of the day they are going out to forage. I had always thought that, once the sun was on the hive (say from 10 am-ish), there was generally a steady outflow of ladies from the hive into the fields; returning, say tea-time ish. Certainly, at 10-11 you might be sitting in front of a hive which is frenetically active. Based on what I had read, I had always wondered whether those mad periods were e.g. orientation/cleansing (as opposed to foraging).

Anyhow, this general belief has guided my practice - in that I always aim to inspect around lunchtime (on the basis that 'most of the angry girls are out').

That is NOT borne-out by the data.

What I am seeing in general is bulk-issuing of foragers at a certain time of day, and their gradual return. This is LATE; at the earliest at about 1pm, and at the latest around 5pm - in the main somewhere around 3pm, with roughly 1.5kg of bees issuing over a 10 minute period in each event.

Consistently.

Very interesting. I'd be interested in hearing sundry thoughts/reflections and experiences in relation to the above.
Love your analysis and clear conclusions , which fully back up my observations of bee behaviour this season

Timings up north slightly different to yours, my colonies at altitude (near heather), in my home apiary that I watch most, generally have a gap in July, before the heather flow.

This gap was extended this year down to the poor weather and hence a late flow when the sun came out end of first week sept. I had to gaffa tape, slight gaps in my bee shed door frame and around the lid of a large plastic box with frames being sterilised by acetic acid as they located them and told each other! They have the most accrue sense of smell and the speed to which robbing can start is scary!

Re the massive flow in spring - I concluded like you, for the first time up here, a clover flow. We have fields around us of unimproved grassland, where small scale sheep and Angus farmers tend not to use much fertiliser, so there’s a lot of old white clover. However, as we’re at 1000ft, never quite warm or humid enough to be a part of the spring flow. Most of spring comes from sycamore - 69% just back from National monitoring scheme for 2022) in May /early June. Noticed for the first time ever my spring honey from home, crystallised into a v fine but beautiful texture and golden in colour. Think must be clover from what I’ve read, perhaps a more experienced member can verify?

I’ve also noticed this mass exodus of bees and it’s finely tuned link to the scouts finding a new and profitable source of forage. Coming back with urgency using shaking dances and then waggle dances as she alerts her nest mates and the news rapidly spreads. Watch next time you see it outside then go inside and see the urgency and abundance of the dancing foragers on the combs

Pls keep sharing this type of analysis. Really helps understand and verify bee behaviour which is so interesting

Be interested in your winter analysis. I measured weight of my colonies very crudely last 3 winters and compared locations (2 small apiaries in valley at 100-300ft) and my home apiary (1000ft alt) and also compared colonies in polyhives to WBCs.

Similar use of stores between colonies. On average and the mean, median & mode (hazily recalls schoolgirl maths) my colonies consumed 28lb End Oct - March, with the odd outlier up to 45lb and as low as 20lb

Not much difference between hive type, with polyhive slightly more, but they bomb out in spring as get starter earlier so consume more as the queen lays faster in early spring

Thanks for sharing
Elaine
 
Last edited:
If you know how much the colony moves poo outside the hive, what do you do with that knowledge?
 

Latest posts

Back
Top