Journal of NACAA

Evaluation of Low-Cost, Non-Invasive Hive Monitoring Tools for Overwintering Honeybee Hives

ISSN 2158-9429

Volume 12, Issue 1 - June 2019

Editor: Linda Chalker-Scott


Overwinter colony loss is a significant concern for large and small beekeeping operations. To care for colonies with a prolonged winter confinement period, beekeepers must learn how to recognize and promptly deal with colony health and queen problems during the summer and fall, with an eye to ensuring that colonies enter winter clustering in the best possible condition. Evaluating how these management decisions have affected overwintering bees is difficult in extreme weather without risking bees’ health. Low cost tools such as digital meat thermometers, infrared thermometers, humidity gauges, acoustic meters and lower cost thermal cameras were tested in six apiary locations across the northern United States and Canada to determine their efficacy in monitoring overwintering hive health. Of the tools tested, the digital thermometers were the most effective across the six states, though the acoustic meter and digital meat thermometers were also accurate under specific environmental and hive conditions. The humidity meters and low-cost thermal imaging cameras were not effective in extreme weather conditions.
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