capteur_temperature_dans_ruche

How to install a temperature sensor in your hive

Measuring your hive internal temperature is a key factor in monitoring the colony’s dynamics and health. A temperature sensor is extremely easy to setup. Simply place it in the center of the hive, on the 5th or 6th frame.

Before setting up the sensor, make sure it is active by pressing the pushbutton on the card. The red led should quickly start flashing. This means that the sensor is operational. If it doesn’t flash, maintain the pressure for 10 seconds. From this moment, the red led should flash every second for a minute. You have just activated the sensor!

Broodminder sensors have an elongated shape so that the sensor reference can be identified from outside the hive. In this way, you always know which sensor is in which hive.

capteur_temperature_dans_ruche

For professional beekeepers, it is possible to shorten a temperature sensor and to only keep its measuring end. By placing the sensor on the 5thor 6thframe, it will be quickly propolized by bees. In this way, it will remain hung on the frame top without hindering the hive operations.

Not having a visible reference requires in exchange, a better follow-up & monitoring of each sensor’s position. On the Mellisphera interface, it is possible to print-out the list of your hives with their equipment. This list also gives some information about the brood level in each hive. I personally use it to organize and conduct my visits to the apiary.

In this way I can easily control each hive, while writing my observations on the same paper.


How to set-up apiary monitoring – backyard beekeepers

Apiary for backyard beekeeping

Which configuration is the best for equipping an apiary when you are a backyard beekeeper? This is one of the first questions asked by our future customers. And this question is justified because the Mellisphera-Broodminder system is modular and offers multiple options.

Precision beekeeping is a recent practice. The first devices were pretty expensive. They were intended for professionals and provided direct monitoring of honeydews in order to save them from unnecessary visits. But those days are long gone. The most recent systems are now available to backyard beekeepers.

Connected beekeeping for backyard beekeepers

If we put aside the colony health, backyard & professional beekeepers do not necessarily rank their priorities in the same order. With an average of 5 to 10 hives, beekeeping is above all a passion for backyard beekeepers. They are curious about observing nature, practicing a technical & complex activity that depends on many factors and that is eventually measured with their honey harvest.

Very often, their interest in precision beekeeping is motivated by the desire to better understand. To better understand honeydews, brood development, swarming and other phenomena. Their learning is more or less methodical & scientific, so they practice beekeeping according to measurements and proven facts.

Therefore, they see connected systems as devices that can provide them with more accurate and frequent information. Combined with their frequent inspections, beekeepers will benefit from additional knowledge in order to develop their practice quality.

Our tips for starting precision beekeeping as a hobby

Like any technique, precision beekeeping has to be learned. You will have to practice in order to understand, you will have to make mistakes in order to improve yourself. And this will be necessary despite our best efforts to design the most accessible system possible.

The big advantage of the BroodMinder-Mellisphera system is its modularity. You can start simply and progress as you go along. I promise you that it can go far, far away! The system's configuration options, both for sensors and software, ensure that you can progress in practice. So there is room for beginners as well as for experts.

This modularity makes it possible to equip yourself gradually. All devices are compatible, and you don't need to buy them all at once. We recommend you to start simple and check that the system meets your needs. This way, the initial financial investment will be moderated, and you will have time to explore the solution features.

We also strongly recommend you to connect several hives to be able to compare them between each other. During your inspections, you always compare the condition of a colony with its neighbour(s). It is the same in precision beekeeping. With only one hive equipped, you would not have any reference point to observe its evolution.

My first connected apiary

So, what are the best configurations for connecting your apiary?

Apiary 1: We recommend you to setup a complete hive (W balance + TH internal temperature & humidity) and to install a T2 temperature sensor in a second hive. In this way you will have the opportunity to monitor 2 hives for an amount that will not exceed 250€ HT. The Citizen Scientist Kit has been designed for this purpose.

Apiary 2: A second option, even more affordable, is to rely entirely on monitoring the colony development. Three T2 sensors in total, for a 100€ investment (excl. VAT).

Both configurations are subscription-free with an access to the Apiary App & the BroodMinder / Mellisphera platforms. However, let's be honest, these options are limited. Indeed, you will have to go to your apiary in order to recover the data with your smartphone. Moreover, some functions of our app are reserved for premium accounts. But in any case, you'll have more than enough to get you started!

There is also a last condition for free accounts: the obligation to transmit sensor data to "beecounted.org". Beecounted.org is an international collaborative science initiative to which Mellisphera is a partner. As such, we will transmit your sensor readings and the approximate position of your apiary to be displayed on a map. Please note that we will not know the exact location of your apiary. We will simply have your postcode and the apiary will appear on the Town Hall square of your city.

Welcome to the precision beekeepers' club

Connecting an apiary even with three hives is already an enriching experience. You will learn the basics of precision beekeeping, have your first season of data... Then, if you want to go further, you can equip other hives. You can even automate your data collection in order to be informed in real time of events.

You're ready to become a precision beekeeper. The BroodMinder-Mellisphera system makes it possible to monitor your entire apiary. This is not only a "connected hive" but a "connected apiary" with a "connected beekeeper" who uses the information in order to make concrete decisions.

In this article, we have outlined some of the most common choices for equipping an apiary if you are a backyard beekeeper. With experience, you will find the most suitable formula and you will refine it to get the maximum satisfaction, pleasure & honey of course.

Further references



capteurs de température

The new SwarmMinder T2 with swarm detection... is coming!

The T2 temperature sensor from our friends BroodMinder is changing deep down this spring. The equipment remains unchanged, but its core software is completely transformed. Indeed, the embedded software is now capable of detecting events within the hive. A major step forward to make swarm detection even more reliable.

Small sensor, great assets!

Until now the BroodMinder T2 sensor was used to measure brood temperature. This information is very useful in assessing the colony health and dynamics. It is therefore possible to monitor several hives in an apiary and to compare their respective behaviours.

The T2 sensor, which was initially passive, is becoming active in 2020. Its new firmware integrates an algorithm that analyzes the type of variations when measuring temperature. When an abnormal evolution is detected, the algorithm will start to "pay more attention” to it. If this variation is confirmed, it will record an alert for the next measurements. This will be reported to the user.

The alert is recorded along with the measurements. When the user collects its data he will see that there has been a "Temperature event", with its exact date and time.

But this event does not necessarily indicate a swarming detection. As we will see below, the sensor also identifies other phenomena.

Two shots of the BroodMinder Apiary App: on the left, you have an overview with all the sensors of the apiary. The R8 one shows an alert on May 18. On the right, you see the R8 hive in more details, with the time of the event.

Real-time swarm notification

The Hub (Cell or WiFi) actively participates in the event notifications. When the apiary is equipped with this automatic transmission box, the beekeeper is notified at the very moment of the event.

When the T2 switches to the monitoring mode, the Hub – which normally analyzes the information every hour – also switches to the monitoring mode. If the T2 sensor confirms the alert, the Hub directly transmits it to the cloud.

The beekeeper will receive a notification by e-mail or SMS!

The Broodminder data transmitter actively participates in swarm detection

High-fidelity recorded swarms

The possibility to change the information frequency is another nice feature of the new T2-SM. Initially set at 60 minutes, you can now configure a report every 15 minutes.

And the result is amazing. The swarm is traced with great precision from the beginning so you can track its progression. Each sequence is clearly identifiable. Once you can be there, we recommend you to note the observations down to the minute, so that you can correlate them with the measurements.

A good case of swarm detection

Two weeks ago, our friend Theo Hartmann, who had installed some of the new T2s in his apiary, received an SMS alert informing him that an event was happening. On the measurement report, he saw the hive weight drop by 2kg while the temperature was rising – as you can clearly see on the graph below. He went to his apiary and found the swarm clinging to a tree near the hive.

But the experiment doesn't stop there. Remarkably, as you can see on the graph and the photo below, the bees returned to their hive an hour later. Theo witnessed it, not without a bit of excitement!

Hive weight and temperature variations during swarming
The swarm returns to its original hive after a one-hour excursion.
The swarm returns to its original hive after a one-hour excursion.

A whole world to discover - the exploration goes on!

The SwarmMinder system development started in the spring of 2019. And it lasted 15 months because we needed swarms in order to test it! Over these two springs, we looked at all potential swarms on both sides of the Atlantic. BroodMinder also developed a swarm simulator to compensate for the lack of swarms in winter. It is very useful to perform detection tests in a warm and safe place 🙂

The system is now fully operational. It provides information that was previously unknown and that needs to be characterized. We still have a lot to learn about the data interpretation. For example, Theo found out that the sensors record different types of events, other than swarming. Some of them can be precursor signals, a few days before the swarm...

This is the beginning of an exploration. If you have a classic T2 sensor, update the firmware and get started!
Let us know what you find out at support@mellisphera.com



Quels outils et techniques pour Maitriser l'essaimage ?

Swarming control - Tools & techniques for timely action

Swarming is the colony's reproduction mode. Every hive is programmed to swarm. Beekeepers strive to control this age-old mechanism to ensure a better production. Many techniques exist to control swarming. And every beekeeper practices some of them according to his knowledge. He carries out preventive actions, hoping that they will have the desired effect. However in the end, it is the nature that decides on what happens next – without actually informing the beekeeper, by the way!

The good news is that it’s now possible to very precisely know the colony's actions. When we measure its dynamics, we find out unsuspected events and, sometimes, beyond what is written in books. This new information opens up the possibility of a better understanding of the hive and therefore a better swarming control.

Common techniques for swarming control

Most of the techniques used to control swarming involve interventions on the colony. The main factors that encourage a hive to swarm are the lack of space, the age and the race of the queen. The ecosystem and climatic conditions also have an impact.

In beekeeping, we try to influence these key factors. For example, adding suppers or frames increases the volume and the work to be done by the colony. But introducing young queens is also a common practice. A queen of the same year has a 2-3% chance of swarming; this rate rises to 20% for a one-year queen and to 50% for a two-year queen. Another common practice is the royal cell destruction. It requires a significant maintenance and is not necessarily sufficient to prevent swarming if the colony is already engaged in it.

Divisions and artificial swarms are undoubtedly one of the best ways to control colony dynamics. By drastically deflating the colony, this one is bound to rebuild itself and, in this way, will "forget" to reproduce.

Every beekeeper adopts some of these techniques and applies them according to his knowledge and his capabilities. He always hopes that they will have the desired effect, without ever knowing what will really happen. He may suspect a potential swarm during an inspection, but it will rarely go beyond that. This raises the following question: to what extent is it possible to master a technique for preventing a swarm when its criteria can only be measured very roughly?

Precision beekeeping can provide an answer to this question.

Precision beekeeping, the solution to eventually learn how to better control swarming ?

We have been tracking several hives this spring that were equipped with internal and weight sensors. When the swarming period started, we applied the usual procedures against swarming. One of the hives involved in these interventions was the R7 hive.

The R7 hive is a 2019 colony. The queen (marked in green) is just 12 months old. In principle, she should have a 20% average tendency to swarm. However, in the early season, she was already super dynamic, with brood levels exceeding those of her apiary peers.

Vue de toutes les ruches du rucher avec leur niveau de couvain
Daily brood development

Colony dynamics and swarming chronology - example of behaviour with the R7 hive

When the colony reached a 60% brood rate on 15 March, the first division took place. As a result, two beautiful brood frames were collected and put into hives. The objective: to calm its enthusiasm.

On 8 April, the 2nd division started with two new brood frames taken. In addition, during the same inspection, a supper was also added in order to increase the volume. I made the mistake that day of not looking for royal cells in all the frames. Now I know that, in light of the events that followed.

The first swarm took place on April 13. A 3.1 kg swarm of bees left the hive.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUlG7m1TZJA
First swarm of the R7 hive

During an inspection on April 18, I noticed bees on 4 frames of the supper and the beginning of a nectar entry. The colony was working.

Yes but, on April 23, a second swarm took place!

And on April 28, a third swarm occurred that completely emptied the hive!

There wasn't a single bee left in the supper. The population was really down. The brood returned to the late March stage.

Daily brood development

Brood development between early March and early May, associated with the events undergone by the hive. The first swarm is the one of the previous years’ queen. Following this first swarm, the brood starts to decline sharply. Since none of the new virgin queens remain in the colony, the brood continues to drop.

Event summary

This example illustrates to what extent the actions that the beekeeper is carrying out do not always have the expected effects. In the end, we have a hive from which we collected two times two frames and on which we added embossed waxes. It has a one-year old queen, with sufficient space – with this hindsight, the supper should have been installed a few weeks before, regardless of the divisions. Despite all our interventions, the colony has swarmed not once, but three times.

calendrier de couvain et des événements pour R7
Brood level / Events

A condensed view of the period, for the R7 hive. On the left, the brood level displayed reaches very high values, around 90%. This is when the swarm takes place, as shown in the calendar on the right. The red icons indicate the two divisions of the colony.

Swarming control with data - Lessons learned

Without the measurements, the beekeeper would never have known that his hive swarmed three times in less than 15 days. That's the interesting part of this experiment. At best, his reflection would have been reduced to a simple "it must have swarmed!".

He would never have come to these two conclusions: "I should have put the supper earlier" and because of the very high brood volume at the beginning of April (when it rained very often), "I should have searched for royal cells".

Thanks to the detailed information about these events, the beekeeper can perceive the "mistakes" that have been made – as well as his axes of improvement. As Lord Kelvin said, "when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it".

 

This experience and those carried out elsewhere make it possible to define some practical uses:

  • Systematically divide the hives that reach a 60% level of brood.
  • Follow the hives of the apiary as a whole. Compare their respective dynamics and be careful about those that "over-perform". They may "under-perform" at the end!
  • After the first division, if the hive does not show a % decrease in its brood quantity, it can be divided a second time.

But let's be humble. Despite following this advice, nature may decide otherwise. When none of this is enough to control the swarm, there is still Plan B: catch the swarm.

Monitoring techniques applied to swarming detection

A hive equipped with a scale makes it possible to visualize the swarms on the weight curves. This is the case for the R7 hive which has a BroodMinder-W scale. Each swarm is perfectly identifiable.

But the measurements illustrating this article did not come from the scale. In this case, we should consider equipping all the hives with an electronic scale, which is not viable. In this article, it is the hive's internal sensors – BroodMinder-T2 – combined with Mellisphera's BSwarm algorithm that provide this information. These small internal sensors, which measure temperature, are in most cases sufficient to identify the swarm.

Indeed, when the colony swarms, it stops regulating its temperature. This variation is detectable and makes it possible to identify the event.

The advantage of this type of sensor is that it is much more affordable than a scale. Moreover, it is also this sensor that provides the information to calculate the brood volume of the colony, using another algorithm called BForce…

T2-SwarmMinder, a tool finally available for swarming control!

Which beekeeper hasn't dreamed of knowing when a hive is swarming? Even better, detecting the first signs of it two or three days before? This is now an accessible dream! This spring BroodMinder unveiled the new T2-SwarmMinder. It is a "classic" T2 sensor but with a new firmware. It includes an algorithm to detect swarms and more precisely "temperature events". Indeed, during its development that started in spring 2019, we discovered that it can detect several types of events...

See more in the next article!



How to set-up apiary monitoring – professional beekeepers

Which configuration is the best for equipping an apiary when you are a professional beekeeper? This is one of the first questions asked by our future customers. And this question is justified because the Mellisphera-Broodminder system is modular and offers multiple options.

In the most common use, professional beekeepers want to use our devices to remotely monitor their hives. They want to know about the honeydews – a classic – but also about the health status of their hives – less commonly. This is typically the kind of information that needs to be remotely transmitted in real time. From this point of view, our data transmitter (HUB) is essential.

Broodminder data transmitter

Your apiary is covered by a mobile network

It is important to check that your apiary is located in an area with 3G coverage. You can easily test it with your smartphone. But don’t stop there because the SIM card included in our HUB is multi-operator. So even if you can’t get a signal at your apiary location with your current mobile operator, another one may have a better coverage. The SIM card will use the most efficient operator. In this case, you can install the data transmitter in your apiary.

The transmitter covers a 20-meter radius. It is possible to install about twenty hives on this surface – this is what we recommend: twenty hives per HUB. If your apiary is larger than 20 meters or if the layout is longer, you may need to get a second box or to reposition your hives around the transmitter.

Which sensors should you install on your hives?

The Broodminder sensor range is very comprehensive and constantly improving. At the moment, you can choose between a W scale and two types of internal sensors: T for temperature and TH for temperature and humidity.

If you have 20 hives on your apiary, we recommend you to install 18 T sensors and to equip the 2 other hives with W and TH sensors. In other words, we recommend two fully equipped hives and the 18 others with brood and swarming tracking. In this way, you ensure a follow-up of your whole apiary at an optimal cost (1347€).

What if you do transhumance?

If you do transhumance, you are likely to have a “base” apiary and some “production” sites. With the base site, you can follow the hives that should go into production. In this case, we equip the base apiary with a transmitter that will remain on-site. You can therefore closely monitor the operations that will occur on this apiary: brood development, requeening, potential division resumption, etc.

On the day of transhumance, it will be possible to print out the list of your hives classified by their brood volume so you will take the best ones to the production site.

Regarding your production site, we recommend you to install a second data transmitter. This one will be a “transhumant” transmitter, that will follow you on all of your production sites.

With this configuration, it will be possible for you to monitor the hives of your base apiary (preparing or recovering) that you want to manage in the best possible way for production but also your production hives in order to identify any event (honeydew, ambient temperature) or anomaly (swarming, loss of queen, hive theft).

So, before you go to your apiary, you already know the health status of your hives over there. For example, if you see two of your hives declining, you make a detour to the base apiary where you take two colonies that are in better shape and you can make the replacement.

The same logic applies when you change production sites. Which hives from the A site can move to the T site? Which ones should be returned to the base apiary for intermediate care? Print out the list of your hives – classified by their brood volume – and identify what quantities should be moved among the three sites.

The rotation logic between the base apiary and the production sites.

With this system, the two transmitters will ensure you the visibility of all the involved hives, no matter where they are located.

What about equipping an apiary not covered by a mobile network?

If your apiary is located in a no-network zone, you may ask: what is the point of a real-time monitoring solution without an internet connection? It is true that the benefits of our solution will be lower, but it doesn’t mean that it is worthless! The sensors that are installed in hives measure their vital constants over the whole season. Even if a hive is moved to a no-network site, the sensors will continue to record the different events. When you will go to your apiary, your smartphone and the Apiary App will collect the data and transfer it to the cloud later, when you get back to a network zone. You will therefore get an update of your hive situation and see potential swarming or loss of brood.

Conclusion

With the Mellisphera system, you can monitor your entire apiary. Here we are not talking about "connected hives" but about a "connected apiary" or even a "connected beekeeper" who uses the collected information to make concrete decisions. We have outlined in this article some common choices for equipping an apiary if you are a professional beekeeper. We are sure that with time and experience, you will find the most suitable solution and refine it as time goes in order to get the maximum benefit from it.



lancement du projet

Menorca bets on precision beekeeping

The island’s beekeepers and their government see in technology the opportunity to bring a new impetus to the sector. With the “Precision Beekeeping 2020” project they are signing the first spanish initiative at this scale.

 

Menorca honey is highly appreciated and often awarded for its exceptional qualities and characteristics. So much that on the island, beekeepers have small effort to place their production well before the harvest. And yet the sector is facing the same threats as elsewhere. Even worse, theyr are facing two additional constraints: insularity, which prevents any transhumance, and climate change, which is very marked in the Mediterranean. As a result, beekeepers must be more vigilant and strictly minimize risks.

Beekeepers are fully aware of these risks. As their president Bernat Cardona expressed it during the press conference launching the project, “we must provide more work for an ever more limited production”. From this observation they understand that only a technological breakthrough could provide new room for improvement.

lancement du projet

Antoni Anglada, professional beekeeper and manager of the Dolçamar honey brand, also sees precision beekeeping as a tool that can facilitate his transition to organic beekeeping. As he points out, the exceptional product produced on the island must also be perfect in terms of production methods.

The administration is also sensitive to the risks that not only overhang the honey supply chain. But also pollination services and ecosystem sustainability. Minorca was classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1993. The Counselor for Economy and Territory, Miquel Company bets on the alliance between technology, innovation, economy and ecology, to provide concrete solutions.

Eight apiaries spread over the island

With this alliance of actors, wills and visions kicks the “Precision Beekeeping 2020” project. First initiative of its kind in Spain. In the first phase of the project, four beekeepers will equip 150 connected hives spread over the island’s different biotypes.

The objective is straight forward: to improve operations and reduce non-value. In other words, it is about improving operations and reducing mortality through more efficient apiaries management.

Real-time monitoring technology will allow beekeepers to have accurate information at all times.

This information concerns the current state of the apiary but also the 5-day evolution forecasts. The models developed by Mellisphera, inspired by the aeronautical world, must provide beekeepers with first-hand decision-making information.

menorca apiarios
Les ruchers qui participent au projet "Apiculture de précision 2020" à Minorque

A training plan

In addition to the technological aspect, the project also includes a training plan. Precision beekeeping is not a simple digitization of practices; it is a new paradigm. To obtain maximum benefit from it, the beekeeper must be able to analyse the information provided. This is why training is essential to establish these new practices. In fact, we at Mellisphera continue to learn every day from the data we analyze. In short, the adoption of these new practices requires a well thought-out and structured training plan. As an example, the training session we provided at the Chamber of Agriculture in Pau last summer, enabled us to structure the content for the first time.

An essential database

In addition to training, Mellisphera’s engineers will provide technical support to beekeepers by systematically monitoring the colonies. It is a real team effort to characterize the behaviour of the colonies with regard to all the information collected.

We also aim to improve our models. Indeed, this database will allow us to enrich the MBLM* algorithm. This model, developed on an oceanic/continental climate, will be extended to the specificities of the Mediterranean climate and bees.

A major challenge

In all respects, this project will contribute to achieving Mellisphera’s ambition: to reduce the mortality rate of connected hives to 10%, while increasing the productive hive rate from 50% to 70%. These are objectives that stimulate our creativity and commitment. We know how much the industry needs it. We are delighted to be able to lead this fight alongside committed and visionary beekeepers.

… and a nod to history

Beekeepers in Menorca also have an ambition that links them to their history. In 1885 Francesc Andreu Femenias introduced the first modern hives in Menorca. As a result, this new technology positioned Menorca as a pioneer in modern beekeeping in Spain.

135 years later, the island’s beekeepers and their administration are once again betting on technology to boost the sector to the highest level.

apiari menorca

BPI et ETICOOP soutiennent Mellisphera

BPI and ETICOOP are supporting Mellisphera

BPI and ETICOOP are supporting Mellisphera

That’s the good news of the fall. We have two new sponsors, BPI and ETICOOP, engaged with Mellisphera to support its development.

On the one hand, the Public Investment Bank supports the development of the Mellisphera platform. Indeed, the BPI, whose slogan is “serving the future”, is seduced by the prospects of our product.

On the other hand, ETICOOP, which integrates us into its 14th incubation course for innovative projects alongside the 9 other selected projects. This structure, supported by Crédit Agricole Pyrénées Gascogne, backs innovative and local initiatives. As a result it offers personalized support on all aspects of the company. And this, with a strong emphasis on territory and cooperation.

We are proud to have these two strong supporters to support our development. By committing to Mellisphera, BPI and ETICOOP are not only betting on our ability to offer a high value-added product. But also on the development of innovation and local employment.

We share 100% of these values, which are very concretely reflected in our daily lives. For example, when we support free software or participate in local events such as e-py or the Greta Digital Hackaton, to name a few.

Eticoop developpement régional

About BPI and Eticoop

Bpifrance www.bpifrance.fr is a public investment bank, a French financing and business development organisation. As such, it is responsible for supporting SMEs, TWAs and innovative companies in support of public policies of the State and regions.

Eticoop www.eticoop.fr is the Territorial School for Innovation and Cooperation. It is a structure for the development of entrepreneurship and cooperative values in our territories. Therefore it brings together three complementary players: the regional banks of Crédit Agricole Pyrénées Gascogne and Crédit Agricole Aquitaine, the INSUP association and the Mondragon group. To achieve its objectives, it implements operational actions. For example, the Support Programme for entrepreneurs alternates between collective and individual phases over a total period of 30 months.


Apimondia 2019

Apimondia 2019

apimondia 2019 montréal

Welcome to Apimondia 2019 🇨🇦

What is the international event that brings together every two years nations from Russia to Chile, from China to Australia, from the United States to Ethiopia, from Brazil to Slovenia? The Olympics ? no Apimondia!

If you are passionate about beekeeping, be certain that Apimondia is the event not to miss. We had a very intense week in Montreal. How lucky to have been able to participate in an event of this level. Extremely well organized, in a very welcoming city, gathering four days long the world’s beekeeping stakeholders.

A high quality program

On the content side, the high quality program brought together lecturers literally addressing the whole range of topics related to beekeeping. Five parallel sessions permanently, from Monday to Thursday. This makes conferences to follow (and leave …). There were also the daily poster sessions, and of course the exhibitors hall from around the globe.

Beautiful encounters

Apimondia is also the pleasure of discovery. Sharing with beekeepers from around the globe. Open to discuss their beekeeping practices on small or large farms. In this respect we have been able to deepen their conception of precision beekeeping. Many people make increasing use of the data to carry out their exploitation.

Know-how

We found our friends in Broodminder to build relationships and define the rest of our roadmap. We have good plans for 2020. As at every meeting, we took the opportunity to consolidate our vision in the medium / long term.

On the floor, we also found other international actors who share the mission to improve the conditions of beekeepers using modern technology. ApisProtect, Beeguard, Beehero, Hostabee or Nectar are just some of them.

Clearly the hive monitoring technologies have occupied a good place at Apimondia. Especially in the conference rooms but also on the expo. This is not only the signal that something is changing in the world of beekeeping. But also a wave of bottom that the most advanced beekeepers have already integrated into their practices.

And a state of mind turned towards the future

The only sad note of the event was that more than 50% of the honeys presented at the honey competition were rejected by the laboratory. This is the tangible signal of something wrong with the industry. And so much the better if it serves to raise global awareness to initiate change.

Finally, I would like to point the positive mindset of all the actors that I could cross during these four days. The bee and the beekeepers certainly have problems to overcome. But the desire to go beyond them was clearly tangible in every corner of the Palais des Congrès in Montreal.

apimondia 2019 montréal

suivi du rucher en temps réel

Beyond inspections: follow your apiary in real time

suivi du rucher en temps réel

Beyond inspections: follow your apiary in real time

Precision beekeeping is characterized by real-time apiary monitoring. This is useful at any time, even for carrying out the yearly review. This article presents a detailed analysis of three apiaries monitored throughout the 2019 season.

 

In an apiary as in life there are hives that are doing well, hives on average and others under poor condition. The beekeeper, as a good breeder, accompanies each colony to help it express its full potential.

The specificity of beekeeping compared to other breeding professions is to work with a super-organism. Conduct a colony that is not eye-visible and has a very variable development. This is the challenge for the beekeeper. In two weeks a colony can cross several states: accelerate or decline everything is possible.

Within an apiary, each hive follows its own dynamics. Generalizations are not very effective in beekeeping and it is necessary to manage – to the colony – to express the best of each one.

To face these constraints, beekeepers do inspections every 15 days on average. Two weeks in the life of a super-organism is far from being two weeks in the life of any other animal. The production of an entire season can be decided in 15 days, natural reproduction (swarming) can be triggered in 15 days. A colony that has 3,000 bees in February will have 60,000 in July: this is +2000% in 6 months, or about +166% every 15 days.

In the past, climatic and environmental hazards were less present and it was possible to practice calendar beekeeping. Those days are gone. Monitoring every 15 days has become the compromise that the beekeeper adopts to run his farm in a more or less profitable way.

Concept de suivi du rucher en temps réel

Precision beekeeping – a new paradigm

To ensure proper monitoring of the colonies, being informed in real time becomes a real asset. Know what happens to act at the right time. Precision beekeeping brings a radically different conception to calendar beekeeping. The inspection concept is reversed: You’re no longer heading to the apiary to diagnose but to act directly because the diagnostic has been made beforehand.

At Mellisphera we have developed algorithms to monitor colony development in real time throughout the season. It is now possible to know the brood level of each hive without opening it.

For the beekeeper, it is an excellent decision-making tool that allows him to quantify the situation at any time, ensure the health of his colonies have an improved risk management.

Valeurs et non-valeurs d'un rucher suivi en temps reel

Let’s look at this apiary with 5 monitored hives. While they all had a relatively tight start at the beginning of the season, on April 9 the breakaway squad started. The games are done at that moment, with those that will go into production and those that will not take off. The RHH green hive is the result of a division and has a delayed start, later in the season.

The best hives succeed in developing their brood quickly and maintain a good level throughout the season. The others will live for 3 months and eventually recover at the end of the season. Those will endure one or more descents with brood losses, swarming, changing queen, etc..

 

Each apiary has its own dynamics

The potential of this tool is multiplied when comparing several apiaries together. In our case three apiaries of three different beekeepers located at less than 40km apart from each other. They benefit from the same weather overall, (see the article “the case of the hive5” on this subject). However, depending on the local setup, resources and practices of the beekeeper, their trajectory will be completely different.

Suivi en temps reel de trois ruchers

Apiary A started in March, Apiary B in April and Apiary C in May. The process is quite similar: those who thrive, those who survive and those who stumble. At the end of the season, after the harvest, the descent of the brood is also different. For apiaries A and B it is moderate for C very accentuated… because of a very concrete reason that will be the subject for our next post.

Conclusion

We have seen that each apiary has a characteristic development. At the same time, each hive follows its own path. Precision beekeeping is based on knowledge of these dynamics. Real-time monitoring of the apiary gives the beekeeper increased visibility on his livestock. Resulting in a more relevant and informed decision-making.

With those new accurate practices, the beekeeper ends up wondering how he was doing, at the time when he was recording information every 15 days….


To go further

Colony dynamics is not a new topic. This 1996 report from the Swiss Bee Research Centre provides further details. We particularly recommend reading its conclusion.


blooming and honeydew

Blooming and honeydews

blooming and honeydew

Blooming and honeydews

One aspect that makes beekeeping an interesting practice is that it immerses you into nature. You become an informed observer of the ecosystem because you and your bees depend on it.

At the end of your first season you easily assimilate the blooming calendar: in March cherry trees, in April apple trees and rapeseed. May is for robinia and June for chestnut and lime tree. Then in August it’s the famine … This careful monitoring of your natural environment allows you to perceive events that go unnoticed to the uninitiated.

Flowers vs honeydew : necessary but not sufficient condition

Having flowers does not necessarily imply the existence of nectar, therefore resources for bees. The honey is conditioned by many factors: the ambient temperature and humidity, the last rains and their intensity, the depth of the roots for plants such as rapeseed or sunflower, etc.

The honeydew is neither acquired nor easy to identify. Especially since you will not stand guard under your neighbor’s apple tree to see when they come foraging!

To measure is to understand

A weight sensor installed under the hive will give you much more detailed information. At a glance it becomes possible to follow the honeydews, their intensity and also the periods of scarcity.

Beyond the fun aspect, it is a real decision-making tool that allows you to judge the appropriate moment to install a new supper or, on the contrary, to support a colony lacking reserves. .

Data transforms the practice of beekeeping. Our understanding of the surrounding environment becomes more precise, more intense.

Fig1: honeydew calendar for a beehive. Green dots indicate incoming resources, while reds indicate weight loss. Their size is proportional to the amount gained or lost.