Digital Beehive Counter Accurately Tracks Your Colony's Collapse

Trying to count the bees buzzing about in a hive is like trying to count the grains of sand on a beach. But if you're worried the deadly virus that has been decimating beehives across the country might be jeopardizing your source of fresh honey, check out this honey bee counter that tracks the comings and goings of your hive's population.

The hacked-together device sits in front of a hive's entrance and features a long row of tiny quarter-inch wide gates that are each monitored by a pair of infra red reflectance sensors. This lets the system determine whether a bee passes through each gate, although it's not sophisticated enough to track the individual movements of every single one. As a result, the honey bee counter can't provide an exact estimate of how many bees are toiling away inside the hive, but the data collected can be graphed and used to determine how busy activity around the hive is throughout the day. And over time, that can be used to spot declines in bee populations whether as a result of a virus, or a bothersome honey-addicted cartoon bear.

Illustration for article titled Digital Beehive Counter Accurately Tracks Your Colonys Collapse

[Instructables via Make]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



This guy belongs to our Portland Urban Beekeeper group. Prior to this he built a small device that records the sounds of the bees hum in order to help determine when they will swarm. Early testing show it as being fairly accurate.

Sorties spiking between 4 - 6 pm is fairly typical as that's when new field bees will do their orientation flights and drones will be exiting heading to DCAs...all the while field bees are still exiting and returning. Causes a bit of a traffic jam at the entrance.

The OSU Honey Bee Lab has ordered up a few of the counter for their research. Stoked to see his work featured on Gizmodo.