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 nectar flow 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 nectar flows, 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