Hive Monitor

Links to abstracts, presentations and posters presented on this work are provided.

Automatic monitoring of the hive provides valuable information about what is going on under the lid.  For many years the NASA Scale Hive project has been run using manual platform scales with daily measurements. In addition to information about the bees, this has revealed that over 15 years, nectar flows have moved earlier by about a week. Evidence of global warming!  And serendipity in science.

More recently, the technology to install computers into hives has become cheaper and smaller. These have utilised a variety of computers and various recording or communications strategies.  A number of commercial systems have been marketed, but for my project, I’ve used components readily available to the hobbyist from electronics outlets. The microprocessor is based upon the Arduino system which provides low cost computing power that is ideal for sensor monitoring.

Solar powered computer monitoring

The Sodaq series of microcontrollers offer a unique conjunction of solar power, microprocessor board and GPRS (mobile phone network) communication, making them an outstanding technology available for beehive monitoring (especially since apiaries are often relatively remote and without power). Hive weight, temperature and humidity are monitored, and later entrance traffic will be added.

hive scale

Mark 1 hive scale with sensors mounted on plywood baseboard

The Sodaq team (with whom I have no commercial relationship) continue to develop their products rapidly.  The Mbili was a huge advance and much easier to program than the Moja due to having separate ports for the serial monitor and GPRS. The Autonomo is more powerful still and has become the workhorse of this project. More recently I have been utilising LoRa – enabled radio communications rather than cellular telephone modems.

Sensors for temperature, humidity and pressure are readily available off the shelf.  I have had a temperature/humidity sensor installed just under the inner hive lid and also a one-wire thermometer that threads down into the brood chamber. However, these are not currently in place . It is quite tricky to get the probe into the center of the brood nest, although when correctly positioned it reads a steady 35 Celsius.


Mark 2 hive scale under construction


mark 2 hive scale in place

Kit List
SODAQ Autonomo
GPRSbee + Antenna + SIM card
LiPo Battery 1200mAh
Solar Panel 1.5W
TPH Sensor Board (Temperature Pressure Humidity) SHT21 BMP180
OneWire Temperature Sensor DS1820
Temperature/Humidity Sensor DHT11
Sparkfun Load Cell Amplifier HX711
Load Cell Sensor 0-40kg (x4)