Monitoring Honey Bee Colonies Electronically

I recently got an email from Frank Linton. Frank works at Mitre Corp and has been interested in hive monitoring for a long time. Last year, he organized the first workshop on hive monitoring at Eastern Apicultural Society’s annual conference in Vermont.  I’ll let Frank speak for himself – the following is an excerpt from his email:

Greetings fellow colony monitoring enthusiasts,
The colony monitoring website I’ve promised myself for some time 
is finally up: [...] If there are 
other monitoring sources you are aware of, feel free to add them 
to the site (it’s in blog format, so you can add info yourself, 
or send me an email). [...]
I had a chat with Kim Flottum last night about what beekeepers 
really need to get from a colony monitoring device. He was quite 
clear; the two most important things beekeepers need to know are:
first, the status of the queen, and
second, the status of the colony with respect to Varroa mites.
Any ideas for a device to monitor one or both of these factors?
There’s a big market out there if you can make a device that is 
useful, reliable, and economical.
Buckaroo Beekeeper

Two of these projects, Electronic Hive Scale and Bee Counter, are very close to my heart.  I encourage you to visit Frank’s fascinating website.

Apologies to readers that wish I posted more.  I know…it has become a dribble.  I have not been lazy.  I hope to have 4 hives make it through the winter. I am building 2 pry scale kits for Puget Sound Beekeepers Association.  I have a CEO job. And mostly, I have a new passion that combines multi-rotors with Tom Seeley’s work.  No, really.  So do stay tuned. I promise it will be interesting.

2 comments to Monitoring Honey Bee Colonies Electronically

  • David Ammons and I are starting a project to do exactly this. We believe that we can recognise mites on the backs of bees with a camera and image recognition software. (We’re also hoping to record incoming pollen sacs, and bee body types)

    David has also been talking about RFID tags – he’s a biologist and quite comfortable attaching RFID tags to bees (which he assures me is very easy). What exactly we can do with them, I’m not yet sure!

    I did read that article ( – there’s also a recording somewhere of the author with audio samples, but I’ve mislaid the link) about the sound of hives, and adding a microphone to our monitoring hardware will be trivial. We then need to do some data analysis to tell us whether there’s any data to be mined there.

    I only recently found out about a few related projects which is why they’re not mentioned in the initial writeup at our web site ( ) or my post yesterday telling other Beekeeper Makers of our plans ( ), but we are aware of them now and the info posted here. I hope we all end up collaborating to improve the state of the art which seems to be on the verge of taking off.


  • Well, talking about queen health. I read about vibrations that a healthy queen sends out and I wonder if there would be a way to monitor those.

    The other idea I had was to put an RFID tag on the back of the queen; where you mark them. You could then put sensors roubd the hive. The em field may disturb the bees though. Or you could rfid yhe entrance and then you would be alerted if she left in a swarm.

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