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 nectar flows – 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 (nectar flow, 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.

Rotation logic with base site
Rotation logic with base site

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.