Monitoring Hives

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understanding_bees 

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It has been interesting to read recent comments about preparation of hives for winter, and ensuring that the bees had enough supplies to last them through the winter period.

I recalled that there had previously been discussions about various ways in which beehives could be monitored. After searching through a number of discussion threads, I have found that hive weight and temperature have been of more interest than humidity, for example.

Some comments discussed the possible merits of remote sensing, and various electronic devices which might enable that approach. Many of these comments were made in February of this year, during the UK winter, and I have been reviewing the status of my hives as we are transitioning into Spring weather in Australia.

Ericbeaumont’s comment: “Best hive monitor on the market (though guarantee & spare parts variable) is the beekeeper” seems to be really good advice.

It would appear that the consensus opinion is that weight measurement has significant benefits, temperature observation can be helpful, and that humidity readings are not as helpful as the other two.

B+ said: “When I looked at what data I wanted to gather, I wasn't happy with in-hive devices and I boiled it all down to weight”. He then summed up his thoughts with “Yes. The simplest solution is usually the best.

Derekm said that he would “focus on a reliable weight measurement system”, and that “the weight measurement is the best of them, as it truly is a summed parameter of the entire colony”.

Derekm also said that “temperature and humidity tell you about a single point in a complex system” which provide “reassurance, rather than information”.

With regard to temperature, Polymath said: “In the summer it was re-assuring to see brood at a nice temp and if you suffered a swarm it could tell you when a new queen had come back into lay”.

I have found the “distilled” information from those various comments very helpful. When it comes to the weight of a hive, many experienced beekeepers appear to be content with hefting their hives. In a recent thread I gave some details of a “hive-lifter” scale which I have built, and it has been reassuring to be able to easily and accurately measure the changes in weight of my hives, as frequently as I have wished. It only takes me a few seconds to get a weight reading, which is far more accurate than hefting will ever be.

During my search for knowledge, while I was preparing to keep bees, I found information about how some beekeepers have used stethoscopes to listen to their hive boxes, to check whether the bees were still alive in the depths of winter. My impression is that being able to view the bees through a clear crown board, and check that the hive temperature was greater than the ambient temperature, can provide a comforting level of reassurance, far more quickly and easily than with a stethoscope..

With regard to temperature, I placed a small thermometer above the crown board (and under the thick polystyrene insulation slab which is above the crown board) in one of my hives several months ago. The ability to use a thermometer to monitor my bees in this way prompted me to search for suitable thermometers which I could place permanently in my hives. The thermometers which I ordered through ebay have arrived, and I shall observe with interest the hive temperatures through the various periods of the beekeeping year. I was able to purchase thermometers for less than $2 (Aus) each, delivered to my mail box.
 

Finman 

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If you do not know, what to disturb the hive means, I am not going to explain it to you.
In winter rest bees mut be in bees. It does not help bees if you are doing all kind of things there. But your winter in Austalia is something else than in Northern Europe.
 

understanding_bees 

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If you do not know, what to disturb the hive means, I am not going to explain it to you.
In winter rest bees mut be in bees. It does not help bees if you are doing all kind of things there. But your winter in Austalia is something else than in Northern Europe.
Thank you Finman, for your reply. Yes, I understand that winter in Finland is very much colder than anything I have experienced in Australia.

When you talk about disturbing a hive, I think you mean opening up the hive to the atmosphere, and removing frames from the hive boxes to inspect them. I agree with you that such things could cause major problems for survival of a colony. But I was not talking about anything like that.

I can understand that hobbyists may be very interested to know what their bees are doing, at different times of the year - including winter. The methods I have described do not disturb the bees at all.
 

Erichalfbee 

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I make sure I have treated for varroa, that the bees are fed sufficiently and are in a warm weatherproof box. It’s mid October. Most of them are at that point. I shall heft/ weigh from the end of January and leave them alone till end of March probably.
No amount of winter fiddling is any compensation for proper prep.
An ear to the side of the hive should reassure anybody but the deaf that they are alive.
I agree with Finny
Leave them alone.
 

Patrick1 

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I agree with Dani, the cluster needs to be maintained, if it is brocken by disturbing the natural rhythm of the hive then the heat is lost the both bees and larvae will die. To state the obvious maybe.
 

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I believe the OP is talking about placing a passive small device, not opening up the hive (unless I understand this wrong). If so, nothing wrong with that IMO. Could help (if placed correctly) identifying broodless period/s during winter (for OA treatment) for example.
 

Patrick1 

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In Kent we only get broodless periods in severe winters, mostly the winter is so mild the AO treatment is a job normally for Late Jan or Feb
 

Poly Hive 

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I set them up for winter as best I can. I treat in Jan and add fondant for the true winter period. There is in my view nothing else I can do, the rest is in the hands of the bee gods. If they come through then great if not well it's out of my hands as frankly there is nothing to be done. anything else is just making stress for yourself.

PH
 

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I believe the OP is talking about placing a passive small device, not opening up the hive (unless I understand this wrong). If so, nothing wrong with that IMO. Could help (if placed correctly) identifying broodless period/s during winter (for OA treatment) for example.
OP’s bees don’t have to cope with varroa
 

Boston Bees 

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It has been interesting to read recent comments about preparation of hives for winter, and ensuring that the bees had enough supplies to last them through the winter period.

I recalled that there had previously been discussions about various ways in which beehives could be monitored. After searching through a number of discussion threads, I have found that hive weight and temperature have been of more interest than humidity, for example.

Some comments discussed the possible merits of remote sensing, and various electronic devices which might enable that approach. Many of these comments were made in February of this year, during the UK winter, and I have been reviewing the status of my hives as we are transitioning into Spring weather in Australia.

Ericbeaumont’s comment: “Best hive monitor on the market (though guarantee & spare parts variable) is the beekeeper” seems to be really good advice.

It would appear that the consensus opinion is that weight measurement has significant benefits, temperature observation can be helpful, and that humidity readings are not as helpful as the other two.

B+ said: “When I looked at what data I wanted to gather, I wasn't happy with in-hive devices and I boiled it all down to weight”. He then summed up his thoughts with “Yes. The simplest solution is usually the best.

Derekm said that he would “focus on a reliable weight measurement system”, and that “the weight measurement is the best of them, as it truly is a summed parameter of the entire colony”.

Derekm also said that “temperature and humidity tell you about a single point in a complex system” which provide “reassurance, rather than information”.

With regard to temperature, Polymath said: “In the summer it was re-assuring to see brood at a nice temp and if you suffered a swarm it could tell you when a new queen had come back into lay”.

I have found the “distilled” information from those various comments very helpful. When it comes to the weight of a hive, many experienced beekeepers appear to be content with hefting their hives. In a recent thread I gave some details of a “hive-lifter” scale which I have built, and it has been reassuring to be able to easily and accurately measure the changes in weight of my hives, as frequently as I have wished. It only takes me a few seconds to get a weight reading, which is far more accurate than hefting will ever be.

During my search for knowledge, while I was preparing to keep bees, I found information about how some beekeepers have used stethoscopes to listen to their hive boxes, to check whether the bees were still alive in the depths of winter. My impression is that being able to view the bees through a clear crown board, and check that the hive temperature was greater than the ambient temperature, can provide a comforting level of reassurance, far more quickly and easily than with a stethoscope..

With regard to temperature, I placed a small thermometer above the crown board (and under the thick polystyrene insulation slab which is above the crown board) in one of my hives several months ago. The ability to use a thermometer to monitor my bees in this way prompted me to search for suitable thermometers which I could place permanently in my hives. The thermometers which I ordered through ebay have arrived, and I shall observe with interest the hive temperatures through the various periods of the beekeeping year. I was able to purchase thermometers for less than $2 (Aus) each, delivered to my mail box.
TLDR
 

philipm 

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Thermometers with remote probe on fleabay ,But a bit pointless unless you just want to record the temperature for your records If the bees dwindled and died out over the winter theres not much that can be done, if they move the wrong way and starve it would probably be too late before it was noticed. Best to make sure they are well fed and merge small colonies or insulate them well.Last few winters have been mild its the spring that has been the problem.
 

fizzle 

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Thermometers is not a bad idea if you want to monitor hive. Could put the probe down through the insulated crown board and would just need to remove roof cover without disturbing the bees.
 

Erichalfbee 

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Thermometers is not a bad idea if you want to monitor hive. Could put the probe down through the insulated crown board and would just need to remove roof cover without disturbing the bees.
And what happens to the readings as the cluster moves? And what might you deduce?
 

Beebe 

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Somehow it's escalated to seven.
It's possible to have an "academic" interest in something like this which may give you some insight into what happens inside a hive; I think it's called "science" and if it doesn't qualify as that, what's wrong with curiosity?
Tiny, wire-free temperature senders are available which, as in a recent video (from a part of the world whose name I shall not utter), can help to illustrate the movements and size changes in a winter cluster.
 

Finman 

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Thermometers is not a bad idea if you want to monitor hive. Could put the probe down through the insulated crown board and would just need to remove roof cover without disturbing the bees.
I can get hive temperatures from litterature. You do not need to measure yourself, because you cannot do anything to them.

Once I prepared hives for snow weathers and I only walked near the hive. Bees started to come out.

I put in-out thermometer into the hive via upper entrance. The temp was 42C. It took 24 hours that temp dropped to normal level 23C.

That I mean when I speak abput disturbance. Bees alarm themselves, and heat up the body to fight against enemy.
 

Finman 

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Thermometers is not a bad idea if you want to monitor hive. Could put the probe down through the insulated crown board and would just need to remove roof cover without disturbing the bees.

You can get very good measurements from reseaches. Some has been done in labotatory, where they can change factor, the whole nature is not mixed in results.
 

fizzle 

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And what happens to the readings as the cluster moves? And what might you deduce?

I'm not planning on monitoring but the main deduction would be that they are either dead or alive. After that you could record other variables like outside temp and humidity. If you had a heat detector you could record location of cluster which may give something meaningful as you play around with different methods of insulation, ventilation, OMF vs CBF, store consumption, etc. but not something I am planning on doing.
 

fizzle 

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Once I prepared hives for snow weathers and I only walked near the hive. Bees started to come out.

I put in-out thermometer into the hive via upper entrance. The temp was 42C. It took 24 hours that temp dropped to normal level 23C.

That I mean when I speak abput disturbance. Bees alarm themselves, and heat up the body to fight against enemy.
Interesting, 42C in winter sounds very high. They must have thought you were a bear :)

When I vaped last winter the bees never moved and I did wonder if they were still alive.
 

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