Modern beekeeping techniques have an increasingly central role in the successful management of hives nowadays. Monitoring the activity of the bees becomes of fundamental importance to ensure beekeepers to take the correct action at the right time. Until now, beekeepers have relied on experience with repeated observations over the years to try to understand health and development of the colonies, trying then to act properly. Today this is no longer enough, because many external factors, often introduced by human beings, interfere with the bees, disturbing and damaging their ecosystem. In addition, parasites and chemicals make even more difficult the mission of beekeeper of keeping their colonies healthy. As a consequence, the employment of new monitoring tools that can help in the management of the apiary becomes necessary.
The activity of the bees is usually conditioned by some measurable environmental parameters such as temperature and rainfall. Thanks to the continuous monitoring of the weight of the hive is also possible to follow day by day the effectiveness of foraging, the growth of the colony as well as the production of honey.
Monitoring these parameters is not enough to have a full and satisfying the condition of the bee superorganism, especially in an increasingly disturbed ecosystem, characterized by the continuous appearance of new external factors (parasites and pollutants) and an increasingly high variability weather conditions, as a result of the effects of climate change.
In response to the need for better monitoring, the R&D team of Melixa has developed in early 2011 in collaboration with the Edmund Mach Foundation a prototype sensor for counting the bees entering and exiting from the hive.
Why monitoring the bees is important
Counting the bees is of fundamental importance to measure their activity and, in combination with other environmental parameters, to accurately determine the state of the colony. Compared to other information such as the temperature and the rain, the number of flights is a parameter that characterizes the colony under observation. In addition, if acquired with regularity and precision, it enables a quantitative and objective analysis, not affected by any interpretation.
Here follows some examples of situations where monitoring the flight activity could make the difference:
A high number of flights in a sunny day is good news. However if simultaneously we observe a decrease in weight it is possible that the activity of foraging is not effective.
If during a series of sunny days there is a steady decrease in the number of flights we could deduce that the population is probably reducing, that for instance could be linked to poisonings or swarming.
Knowing the time interval in which the most of the foraging activity is carried out is important to understand what sources have been reached and to determine the quality of the honey harvested.
The system prototype developed in 2011 is today a product available for purchase by all the beekeepers. Discover the features of our monitoring system and request a free demo.