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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Improve Nutrition for Honey Bee Colonies to Stimulate Population Growth, Increase Queen Quality, and Reduce the Impact of Varroa Mites

Location: Honey Bee Research

Title: Continuous monitoring of physical parameters of honey bee colonies

Authors
item Meikle, William
item Holst, Niels -

Submitted to: Apidologie
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: June 3, 2014
Publication Date: June 30, 2014
Citation: Meikle, W.G., Holst, N. 2014. Continuous monitoring of physical parameters of honey bee colonies. Apidologie. 10.1007/s13592-014-0298-x.

Interpretive Summary: Researchers have measured many hive parameters, such as weight and temperature, for much of a last century. However, new technology not only permits researchers to monitor new parameters with comparative ease, such as CO2 concentration, forager traffic and hive vibration, but also to store the data so hives can be monitored around the clock for weeks or even months and to process the resulting large datasets. In this review we cover much of the history of continuous hive monitoring, as well as new developments and new methods of analyzing the data. We divided the types of sensors into different groups: 1) weight; 2) temperature, humidity and gases; 3) vibration and acoustics; and 4) forager traffic. We provide a brief description of how different researchers collected and analyzed the data, provide a critique of some of the methods and references to new technology, such as wireless sensor networks, that have not yet gained wide use in bee research.

Technical Abstract: Monitoring physical variables associated with honey bee colonies, including weight, temperature, humidity, respiratory gases, vibration, acoustics and forager traffic, in a continuous manner is becoming feasible for most researchers as the cost and size of electronic sensors and dataloggers decreases while their precision and capacity increases. Researchers have taken different approaches to analyzing the resulting data sets, with a view towards extracting information on colony behavior and phenology. The objective of this review is to examine critically the different kinds of data and data analysis, providing researchers with better-informed options for, for example, obtaining information on colony phenology in the field without disturbing the hive, and for combining information from different kinds of sensors to obtain a more complete picture of colony status. Wireless sensor networks are briefly discussed.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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