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Weigh your hive! Trerick writes:

There is currently a NASA-sponsored nation-wide research project that asks volunteer beekeepers to take daily weight measurements of their bee hives. The data is used to estimate when nectar flows begin in order to answer how changing climate effects honey bees.

The goal is to build an accurate, electronic bee hive scale for under $50 that allows anyone to weight 4 hives per minute – up to 250 lbs each – without materially disturbing the colony.

In my first year as a beekeeper, I had 2 out of 3 hives swarm. I think. I experienced a Tulip Poplar nectar flow. I think. I saw bees gather nectar – some days more than other days. I think. I say, I think, because I am led to believe that these things happened and I saw evidence that they did occur but I cannot be sure. And if they did occur, I cannot tell you if it was more or less than previous occurrences. But if I could have weighed the hive once or twice a day, I would have known for sure:

    * I would know the population of the runaway swarm …estimated at 3500 bees per pound.
    * I would know the mass of nectar (and pollen) gathered during the day and of water evaporated at night. One pound equals roughly 1.04 US pints.
    * I would know the number of bees foraging by monitoring the loss of weight in bees leaving in the morning.
    * I would know the rate of growth of daily nectar collection as a nectar flow began.
    * I could compare my hives with the hives of others and with my own hives in previous years.

Lord Kelvin said, “To measure is to know.” If I could weigh a hive, I would know a lot more than I do now…


Becky Stern

Becky Stern

Becky Stern is director of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site:

  • pmjett

    Pretty elegant solution, and neatly executed. It never occurred to me to weigh a beehive, but thinking about it now, you could go nuts with this. Inexpensive load cells from eBay ($10-25) coupled with some flavor of open-source datalogging could yield a much finer time resolution (and probably a couple of gram weight resolution). Then you could monitor bee traffic per unit time and all the other neat parameters mentioned in the posting. Still not as cheap as the posted solution, but could yield some additional data.

  • ToddW

    Can any beekeepers guess at what is in the top middle of his frame of bees? Something to introduce a queen? A medicine delivery system of some kind?

    Great build, though.

  • Anonymous

    This really answered my problem, thank you! putas| acompanhantes morenas

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