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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
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    89

    Default Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    A friend of mine wants to record sounds in my hives. I think it would be a neat project as personally I am always intrigued by some of the different fanning tones, strange deep grunting noises, virgin queens piping and the sounds they make as they chew on new woodenware and support wires/fishing line.

    So his question is if anyone has any good ideas for the microphone as he is leery to put in his high dollar mics. Here is what he wrote:

    "I am a sound engineer who records nature sounds to incorporate into music recordings in different ways. I'm interested in recording the sounds inside a hive and am curious if anyone in the forum has experience with this type of sound recording. If so, what microphones have you used? Did your mic survive the environment unscathed? The few folks whose sound tests inside the hive I've read about opted for cheap microphones ($10-$15), which I tend to shy away from in favor of higher quality mics. That said, I'm not too enthused to subject a higher end mic to its final mission inside the hive. I plan to leave the mic in the hive for 1-2 hrs maximum. Let me know your thoughts and/or experience. Thanks."

    Any other tips would be much appreciated.
    Thanks
    Ryan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    An omnidirectional lavalier condenser microphone will do it, as it has a pretty thin wire. It also can be potentially clipped, if there is a spot on one of the frames that has some missing comb- the clip does not open very wide.
    A decent one of those is still going to run $150-180.

    No quality of sound is going to come from a $10-15 mic.

    Another idea is a transducer pickup. The cable is quite a bit thicker. They make stick-on transducer-style guitar pickups (Dean Markley) for about $35. This is merely a suggestion… I have not seen it done. I am not too sure how well they work in a recording situation. But it is simply an instrument cable on the end that would go in to the interface, so it may be a viable application. That option will be a much rougher sounding recording, as this is to simply amplify the sounds going on near it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Wash Co., Ohio
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    I agree w/ a condenser (but not a cheap one - no low end), or a small-diaphragm mic (good, all around), but personally, I'd use a decent dynamic mic (like a SM57). They're fairly rugged. Put it in a condom and it should be pretty safe and wont make much effect on the sound

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Earlysville, Virginia USA
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    Sound wise would a condom be better than fabric? I sew for a living with polartec so it is nothing to stitch up a quick fleece cover. Now that I think of it the best cover would be the least interesting to the bees. I bet they would pull on the small fibers of the fleece.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Wash Co., Ohio
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    you'd be surprised at the quality that passes through a condom (and yeah, there's about 40 jokes in there). Fabric absorbs the vibes and muffles more.
    Actually, I just re-read your friend's statement - 1 to 2 hours should be fine with just a mic cozy and some wrapping or plastic bag on the end. They wont do too much in an hour to it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Louisville, Kentucky, USA
    Posts
    130

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    Actually, I just re-read your friend's statement - 1 to 2 hours should be fine with just a mic cozy and some wrapping or plastic bag on the end. They wont do too much in an hour to it.
    Plastic is a bad idea if we're going back to the idea of putting the friend's higher-end mic in there. If it is a high-end, large diaphragm recording mic, it will pick up everything that touches (or crawls on) the plastic, and the hive sound that's trying to be captured will be compromised.

    If it's an SM57 or any regular Dynamic mic, perhaps the condom will do- never tried it. Regardless, if there's a windscreen on it, it'll be protected from honey and propolis. The handle can be wiped clean, and the cable too. The cable itself would protect the other end of the mic from honey & propolis.
    Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,925

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    Radio shack has a very nice condenser mic with very good sound for $2.99

    http://www.radioshack.com/product/in...ductId=2062215
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    914

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    I picked up a couple of $5 dynamic lavalier microphones off e-bay with the intent of installing them permanently in the hives. They operate, but not with either of my digital recorders. They have a mini-phone tip and shield connector, and apparently my recorders only work with tip-ring-sleeve (stereo) connectors. I need to warm up the soldering iron and try them with new connectors. The advantage of dynamic is that they don't require a battery.

    I have a pair of condenser Audio-Technica ATR-3350 Lavalier microphones, which you can buy any day of the week for under $20. I would not recommend them for studio-quality music recordings but they're perfectly adequate for ordinary voice recordings. I was not planning to use them for permanant installation in the hives because they require batteries, but they should be more than adequate for recording hive noises, especially if the goal is a DIY Apidictor (spectral analysis).

    Even thinking about putting an expensive microphone in a hive makes me feel faint. The idea of getting bee spit all over a studio quality microphone is just not something worth considering to me.

    This from a guy who just last week videoed a black-eyed virio perched on his $250 Rode NTG-2 shotgun microphone plucking hair off the "dead cat" wind cover.

    I have managed to use bee noise recordings with a short script written in Octave (one of the Gnu-license substitutes for MatLab) which does FFT analysis. The script is a little rough around the edges, but if you want to try it, PM me. Click on the thumbnail below to see a 1024-point sample recorded at a sample rate of 11 kHz (the recorder claimed 8 kHz but it lied). I deliberately cut the high frequencies because it gives more resolution at low frequencies. Change a few numbers in the program and use a longer clip and you can get really fancy with it. But the settings used are good enough for spectral analysis of wing buzz.

    8K-LPF-FFT-1024.jpg

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    914

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    Anyone who likes expensive microphones probably is also inclined to use balanced-line cables and inputs. I've never seen a cable with XLR connectors that would sneak into a hive gracefully. It is possible to run the cheap unbalanced mics into XLR adapters ... I've got them for my Tascam DR-60D recorder. Just be sure to use the stereo mini connector.

    Regarding mounting microphones to minimize conduction of noise from hive structures ...

    The trick of suspending a microphone on heavy rubber bands is old as the hills. My Rode shotgun mic uses the trick. It should be possible to do this in miniature in a hive, but the trick would be exactly where to rig it. Maybe set up an inside top cover with a rubber band mic mount, than put an empty super above that to allow space? Small rubber bands would handle a lav nicely.

    Condenser mic elements are small and cheap ... you could probably find a dozen places to sneak this one in. $0.79, on sale! I have no idea of the quality, but their data sheet (second link) shows flat response from 50 Hz to 15 kHz.

    http://www.mpja.com/05-13-14.asp?r=332398&s=31

    http://www.mpja.com/download/30067mk.pdf

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Lafayette, LA - USA
    Posts
    299

    Default Re: Microphones for sound recordings in hives.

    In that time frame his mics will be fine.

    He can put what he wants in there.

    Days now, would be a different story.

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