The Woods Apidictor

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House Bee
Mar 27, 2009
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Hello, has anyone used or know anything about a device called "The Woods Apidictor", I have been given this little box of tricks which looks like it was made in the 50's/60's, what it is supposed to do, I've been told, is using the sound frequency of the hive, predict when it's going to swarm.

Sound plausible but I have no instructions on how to use it, I did a google search which tells me what it's supposed to do but not how it works.

Can you imagine a device that let's you know when your hive is going to swarm! Every beekeeper should have one.....If it works.

Still I would like to give it a try, I would be most grateful if anyone could help,

Many Thanks, Enzo.
Cor Bimey, Enzo.

You could have predicted that swarm ten days ago!

If it works, you have a real find there!

Regards, RAB
An interesting variant would be a microphone running to a PC (or laptop) with an audio spectrum analyser running on it...
The handles on my car window openers, never spontaneously operate as do the electric variety :dupe:.

John Wilkinson
Wish someone would give me one.

here is a link to the schematics for the MK IV and a description of the basics on how it works. It was a patented device so you could probably look it up in the patent description, think it was early 60's. Believe there were only around 300 made so quite a rare object you got
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Rather than build one, with all the filters, amplifiers and associated circuitry I wonder whether simply recording the noise ( perhaps using a digital dictaphone), downloading as a *.wav file, and then using one of the numerous sound analyser programmes to filter out the relevant sounds might work as well?

Certainly save on building one. Might give it a go!
I have seen one.

B. Mobus thought it a load of rubbish and if you think about it if it worked, or nearly worked some one by now would have done something about it.

However as "Bees do noting invariably." It won't work.

I have seen one. B. Mobus thought it a load of rubbish

And your opinion is . . . not of the device itself or the way it worked, but the principles upon which it was based.

Whacking the box and seeing the audio response spectrographically may have practical use or may merely be "of interest". I fancy the idea of instrumenting a hive just out of curiosity. Plugging in a laptop or netbook for a regular "look" at the sigint from a hive.
Not my opinion Hombre but that of Mr Mobus, who thought the machine was useless, as were the principles it was based on. I cannot remember now what he said as this was quite some years ago, but he was adamant that it was not of use.

As I said already if it were such a sound idea it would be in use now. I seem to see it's not. Telling I would have thought given the use it might be to the big boys.

this was quite some years ago,


Says it all, really. Technology has moved on since those 'quite some years ago'. Let's face it, if crooks now have the facility to predict when people are likely to be away from home (from their posssible victim's computer usage) who knows what may be found using computer analysis on beehive audio. It may not be swarming, it may not be 'after a thump on the hive wall'. Waggle dance is ever being refined, pheromones likewise, etc etc. So never say never. Even if you know that it has been studied since those 'quite some years ago'

Regards, RAB
Well, it's working so this season I'll give it a try, because a concept has not been accepted does not always mean it's a failure, I must say though, it looks unused still in it's leather box which probably means the original owner did not think much of it.

I can't help feeling that with modern technology and a little research this type of concept could tell us a lot more about what is happening inside a hive.

All The Best, Enzo.
Technology certainly moves on yes.

It was invented (I think) late fifties.

However what is the point of it?

So you listen with your wee device and it says they are going to swarm. Your last inspection should have told you the same thing. *shrug* and you have gained precisely what?

you have gained precisely what?

Maybe you didn't need to do that last inspection? Might save time, a lot of time for the bigger boys, and might mean fewer/less intrusion into the brood nest, which must be a good thing. This 'inspection every week' is only for the swarming situation, after all,.... isn't it?

Regards, RAB
Actually no it's not. Swarming is only a part of it. Working the brood nest should be the biggest part. Mind you not many do that so.....

Every seven days in the middle of a nectar flow? One third of a brood cycle? When the nest is close to it's peak (before swarming)? I reckon they can benefit from less intrusion into the brood nest than that. I am inclined to disagree with you on this one....

Regards, RAB
Well let's agree on that at least.

I work the hives regardless of nectar flow or what ever, and well... let's say it works for me.

The Apidictor in its day by the way was a very pricey piece of kit. Over £100 I think was mentioned which would put it in the range of 6 months wages or so.

I guess there is the distinction between reasearch and practical beekeeping here. I have heard recordings of the apidictor, and you can hear variations as the bees approach swarming. The apidictor circuitry is pretty dated, and limited in what it can do. Given the advances in analytical process a lot more could be done. But - as far as I know, the research hasn't been done yet, so the follow through for practical implementations can't happen...

I just stumbled on your discussion on the Apidictor.

I can appreciate that if you have not come across one of these before, or used one, and without knowing exactly what it can tell you, that it may seem like black magic or Mystic Meg, but the crux of the device is the frequencies of the filters and the strength of the sounds which give the indications of the state of the colony, it's not just an amplifier and a laptop with spectrum analyser may not show the same results as a good pair of ears !.

My dad kept bees for over 40 years and had one of these devices, and Eddie Woods stayed with us when he came to give a lecture to the local beekeepers.

I still have dad's apidictor and it still works fine, (had to replace the battery connector as the PP4 is no longer available but works ok with a PP3), it was fairly 'state of the art' at the time, in the early days of transistorised equipment. Eddie Woods was a BBC sound engineer.

The main thing it does (as I understand it) is that apart from telling if a hive is going to swarm, is it that it can detect the 'queenless moan', 'queen piping' etc, along with the reaction to the 'tap on the box' and the main advantage is that it reduces disturbance of the colony and with practice you can speedily check a whole apiary in a short time (a couple of minutes each hive) and only have to open the hives which indicate something needing urgent attention.

You can listen to E.F.Woods' taped lecture which I have uploaded as an mp3 file onto one of my websites, here, it was recorded in 1959, which I recently transferred off a reel-to-reel tape.

Hope that helps
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