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…

We’re at the beginning of an exploration. If you have a classic T2 sensor, update its firmware and get started !

Let us know what you find out at
BroodMinder’s presentation of their results from the first spring using the new BroodMinder-T2SM.
A zoom discussion with beekeeping specialists.