Remote Hive Monitoring

Remote hive management is a fairly new concept in beekeeping. Some beekeepers want to know what’s going on in their out yards. This is where nature and technology meet.

Remote hive setup with example of SMS text.
Remote hive setup with example of SMS text.

Having a developer who lives next door, I rolled the concept of a SMS beehive scale past him one day. He seemed keen to take on the challenge and asked me what I wanted to see besides the weight of the hive. After thinking about it for a while, I decided on the following:

  1. Hive weight of one hive
  2. Outside temperature
  3. Inside Temperature

We already had some of the parts available and we ordered whatever else that was required. A few months later, we have a one built and I was eager to test it. He had already tested it for fluctuation in weight by applying a 50 pound weight over a period of time. The weight held steady. The scale uses a solar panel to charge a small 12 volt battery and it shuts off during the night to conserve energy.

I installed it in spring and needless to say, my outyard monitoring days have never been the same. It’s so easy to use, I’m considering one for my home yard too.

SMS texts from the hive. Notice time and weight increase.
SMS texts from the hive. Notice the date and weight increase over a 3 day period.

The idea behind the scale is that you text ‘hello’ to the scale using your phone. Within 10 seconds, you will get a reply from the scale via SMS showing the above mentioned points. It’s been working well for several years now and we are considering adding things like humidity and sound sensors.

We also developed an iphone app where the same info can be read via Bluetooth connection when in close proximity to the hive.

This technology sells for around $1200, but we have been considering developing it further and offering it to local beekeepers. There have been no shortage of beekeepers offering to test it. The only cost besides the initial costs are the Pay as You Go phone plan it’s on. Which is $10/month. While the price is probably too high for most backyard beekeepers, the price may come down with time and as technology in this field improves.