Modified Hive
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Thread: Modified Hive

  1. #1

    Default Modified Hive

    Hi all!

    I'm a college student currently in an engineering design course, and for our semester-long design project, my group and I have decided to try to design a modified beehive that makes the process of collecting honey and monitoring bee health more efficient and convenient for commercial beekeepers. Part of this project is collecting feedback from our target audience to see how we can improve our product, and to ensure that it will actually be useful (if nobody wants a product, then there's no point in making it ).

    Components we've included so far are an internal camera that sends pictures of the inside of the hive to a phone or other device regularly; panels that collect honey into an accessible receptacle automatically; and a system that moves the panels up and down to allow for the camera to get better pictures/videos of the hive. The whole piece is supposed to be solar powered, so that emissions are low and so that the battery doesn't need to be changed out regularly (although our prototype might not be, because solar panels might be outside our budget, haha).

    With all this in mind, is there anything you would change about our design? Any aspects you would add, or parts that you think are actually pretty useless? We'd really appreciate any critiques y'all have!

    -reagan
    (hobby beekeeper when she's not at school)
    (honey enthusiast when she is)

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  3. #2
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    I dont know how a camera would be any good because of the frames. Holes in the side of the box with a borescope camera would work but I don't see what info could be gathered without it being able to see at right angles into the cells. I'm sure it could be devised but its much quicker and easier to pull the frames and scan them for the info.
    A small temperature/ humidity sensor with bluetooth to monitor the inside of the hives enviroment would be cool tho. Put it on the top of a frame in the middle of the brood box with ways to disconnect it and make it longer (think weather pack connectors for cars), small solar cell on he lid for power. probably not a thing for big bussines beekeepers but some small guys might like it. Me included but would have to be a good price.
    There are hive scales out there to monitor weight but they are pricey. having one at a way lower price would help.
    Just some of my ideas, maybe they will help. If you do come up with some sort of a sensor inside I'd love to try one out! Keep me in mind!
    "Never slow down, just go around." Me, until i started keeping bees.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    I have no use for an internal camera.
    I'm not sure how you plan on swiping the capped honey and storing it elsewhere in the hive, but maybe your camera idea is to help know when to activate the swiping process without opening the hive (most beeks like to see the frames firsthand.)

    Modify a hive so that it keeps the walls from getting stone cold in the dead of winter - I think that would be a big help.
    The question is what to do, and the answer, as always, is complicated by a muddle of reason, emotion, and doubt.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    Quote Originally Posted by reagan View Post

    Components we've included so far are an internal camera that sends pictures of the inside of the hive to a phone or other device regularly;
    Does anyone on here have a viewing window on the side of thier hive? I sort of suspect that the bees would cover the camera with burr comb if you leave enough space in front of it to get a picture of a frame. They may still cover it with burr comb and propolis if the bee space is not right

    Quote Originally Posted by reagan View Post
    panels that collect honey into an accessible receptacle automatically; and a system that moves the panels up and down to allow for the camera to get better pictures/videos of the hive.
    something like this would have to move very slow to prevent you from crushing bees as you move frames up and down. Any time you create an empty space in/near the brood nest the bees are going to want to fill it with comb, and will probally do this. I have left a frame out before and the bees filled the entire space (equivalent to a frame) and the queen layed eggs in it (that had already hatched, so >3 days old) in less than a week.


    Quote Originally Posted by reagan View Post
    The whole piece is supposed to be solar powered, so that emissions are low and so that the battery doesn't need to be changed out regularly (although our prototype might not be, because solar panels might be outside our budget, haha).
    solar panels are not to bad. If you set up the system to charge a battery and only move stuff around when the battery is mostly charged you could make this work. My gut feeling says any automation/movement is probally going to cost more than a solar panel.

    Quote Originally Posted by reagan View Post
    With all this in mind, is there anything you would change about our design? Any aspects you would add, or parts that you think are actually pretty useless? We'd really appreciate any critiques y'all have!

    -reagan
    (hobby beekeeper when she's not at school)
    (honey enthusiast when she is)

    I have a homebuilt data logger on my hive, and it is interesting knowing the weight, humidity, and temperatures inside the hive. I have had some problems with a temperature sensor going out of whack and the bees are hard on sensors. I have seen my bees start covering the holes to the humidity sensor with propolis, chew thru teflon tape (that I was trying to use as a membrane) and other odd things. The other thing to keep in mind is that to really get this system working well you need to build a prototype, let it run for a while in a hive, and modify the design. I am an engineer, and completely understand the interest in this, but I think you are in for a lot of work if you try to do everything you describe. I would pick one component (moving frames or honey collection or data logging) for the semester because you are not going to get all 3 working well unless you have a large team (10+) of students to work on this project.

    I am not trying to dash your idea's, but I am trying to give you a realistic perspective after keeping bees for a few years, building my own data logger, and working with some amount of automation.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    Personally, I'd be inclined to start again - only this time, instead of thinking-up possible projects and then canvassing for feedback - I'd adopt a "Necessity is the Mother of Invention" approach. i.e. - ask pro beekeepers what is at the top of their 'Wanted' list. I particularly liked your comment: "if nobody wants a product, then there's no point in making it" - for the key word there is "want", and the only way to know for sure what "want" means (within this context) is to actually ask that question of the target audience.

    I'm not a pro beekeeper myself, but I can imagine the list would include: improved methods for dealing with Varroa, SHB, and Hornets; improved methods of equipment handling; improved methods of communication re: aerial or other means of pesticide spraying. But - the only way to find out for certain is to ask a number of them, or their associations.

    I'm not convinced that retro-fit hive gizmos are all that desirable, although they must be a very tempting prospect for a college project.
    Best of luck.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  7. #6
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    Columbus, Indiana, USA
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    Default

    I wonder if a solar powered exhaust fan in the outer cover would be useful... triggered by high temps or humidity. Like the ones you can use in your car window to reduce heat buildup?
    Newbeek starting w/2 Pkg hives (2019). Zone 6a Central Indiana

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    Be a beekeeper and listen to the bees - they will tell you all you need to know - for that location, that season and their circumstances. Now move to a different location, season etc, and you will have fresh new data. Keep moving. Seriously.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    ....and when done, find common denominators, a few truths and constancies and then, maybe then you will a useful start in the design.

  10. #9
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    Default

    I strongly second the idea of an inexpensive weight sensor that monitors remotely.
    Temp and humidity would be nice too but you already heard the challenges there and frankly thats the hives job to manage. The weight of the hive tells you a lot. The sensor can be located on the outside and it is a realistic engineering challenge to figure out a clever way to take advantage of inexpensive elements and put them together in a way that works to provide value.
    Right now i can buy a unit that measures and transmits the data but it will cost a lot. Surprisingly many people actually weigh the hive on a scale.
    Make a bottom board with integrated scale that transmits the weight by bluetooth for less than $100 and you have a winner.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    Agreed that an inexpensive weight sensor would be a welcome project. For those of us in the south, a louvered, thermostatically controlled upper vent might be of interest. Fewer bees trying to keep the hive cool means more bees foraging, presumably. And, less humidity in the hive means better curing of the honey. Just a thought and not all will agree.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    My experience is that they will cover anything placed in the hive with propolis, making the camera inoperable quickly.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Modified Hive

    There have probably been thousands of beehive patents, I do not know of one that made any money.

    Charles Dadant and his son, Camille Pierre were onto this in 1876. Not cameras, but hive modifications that actually worked.

    They experimented with hive sizes, after noting the successes of Moses Quinby, who used a very large beehive brood boxes but was too tight with money to make use of Reverend Langstroth's interchangeable frames combined with controlled beespace. The Dadants made several sizes of beehive brood boxes with different size frames.

    The hive that consistently blew the others away for bee population and honey production were large, deep hives with frames about 11-1/4 inches deep. They are run as a double colony (a.k.a. 2-queen system) by use of a hive partition and the use of follower boards up until either colony reaches about 4 to 4-1/2 frames. Then one of the colonies is moved to it's own brood box. Meanwhile a square queen excluder is placed over them and they share ("compete" would perhaps be a better word) the same honey boxes. The square configuration allows the honey frames to be put at 90 degrees to the brood frames, allowing the bees ready access to all the honey frames from anywhere in the hive.

    These were later adapted by Brother Adam of Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England. He modified them square and used the standard frame top bar length, such that the inside dimensions were 18-3/8" long (46.7 cm) x 18-3/8" (46.7cm) wide x 11-5/8" (29.5cm) deep.

    The Modified Square Jumbo Dadant hive generally puts out about 50% to 100% more honey than standard U.S. beehive brood boxes because the best queens can lay a very large, compact brood nest, which helps in Spring buildup rate. The same number of bees can cover more brood and hold in more heat with less effort, which leads to the colony taking better advantage of the entire Spring nectar flow.

    Combining these beehive features with smaller cell size such as 5.1 mm hexagons, and narrow frames about 1.240" wide further increases the bees ability to produce more brood rapidly in the Spring.

    Look at the basics first, then add the electronics that may actually help. I do not need a more efficient beehive that removes honey automatically - that would be all wrong. The Australians who make the Flow hive already did this - lots of non-beekeeper people bought them and found out that the catch was that you had to already know something about bees!

    Those of us who had been keeping bees for a while knew that their invention would not affect the way we do things because the harvesting of honey is not one of our main bottlenecks. We already do that in a very efficient fashion, bringing boxes of honey to a central location where automated equipment can handle the load. To spread that out all over several bee yards would be disastrous, let alone a temptation for those who steal beehives to steal all the honey already concentrated!

    The weight sensor idea is a help - someone posted an excellent idea here on Beesource a few years ago. He made an extension for a torque wrench that wedges in between the brood box and the honey box and reads ft.-lbs., which easily converts to weight. You also weigh the brood nest for Winter preparation.

    Some of us even leave a temperature probe in the brood nest with the dial facing out a small window.

    If you can come up with a recycled material that is a fantastic insulator to go outside the wooden hives...I'm interested. If you can come up with a cheaper forklift, or a viable 6-stroke cycle engine modification kit for a Ford or Chevy big block (check out Bruce Crower's patents for the 6-stroke cycle engine, Crower Cams and Racing Equipment, Chula Vista, California) for my bee truck, I'll be one of the early customers. You will have doubled the range of my fuel tank by adding water, and it will probably never overheat.

    There is currently a phone application that listens to the bees' voices and determines if they are struggling with AFB, EFB, Chalkbrood, swarming preparation, etc. So the electronics part of the idea is too late, and I doubt you'll add anything that will change beekeeping.

    One thing that you could do is make a bag or a tent that goes over the hive and keeps it warm while the beekeeper opens it for inspection. This would also prevent robbing.

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