We're up and running!

This is the work-in-progress web site for our project, which will instrument beehives in order to detect signs of impending colony collapse.

Project Overview

We're at the proof of concept stage for now. Our initial implementation is a simple Raspberry Pi computer with a webcam attached, recording the activity at the entrance to a hive. We want to get some initial video and then determine if it is practical to perform video image analysis on it to record numbers of bees entering and leaving, what types of bees they are, and whether they are carrying pollen or have mites attached.

Due to bandwidth limitations we probably will not be able to stream video from the Raspberry Pi to a more powerful server which would do the image processing, so we have to be able to do most of the image analysis live in real time on the Raspberry Pi itself. (But I do expect that we'll be able to automatically post stills to this page every minute or two so you can watch how our project is progressing...)

Plans

In order to be able to detect signs of impending colony collapse, we will need to know what those signs are. To determine this, we should instrument several hives, and gather all possible data to analyse, comparing data from normal hives to collapsing ones. This means that our instrumentation should be cheap to produce. Although it is not a goal of the project, if we are able to build a low-cost way of instrumenting a hive, it could be something worth making available to bee-keepers for other hive monitoring purposes.

After the proof of concept is working, we will experiment with seeing what sensors can be added to the project while keeping it within a reasonable expense. We might consider:

  • temperature
  • air pressure
  • air flow
  • light intensity
  • humidity
  • rainfall
  • vibration
  • time of day
  • hive weight
We've also seen some discussion of using the sounds of a hive (specifically the frequencies of wing beats) to determine parameters about its health, and specific events such as swarming or hive robbing.

Implementation diary

Here are the details of the software and equipment we're working with

  • Raspberry Pi
  • "Pi Noir" infrared-sensitive camera
  • Networking
    We'll probably bury cable from our network hub to the hive, and power the Raspberry Pi over an ethernet wire using Power-over-Ethernet.
    • PoE injector
    • PoE splitter
    • direct burial cable
    • RJ45 plugs (with boots)
    • RJ45 Sockets
  • Cloud-based server
    Because of the potential security risk if we were to allow incoming access to our home networks, we've decided instead to push data (eg live statistics from the environment sensors) out from the hive to this network server, instead of calling in to the hive to access the data. We're hosting the server part of the project (which includes this web server) on a low-cost development VPS from CloudAtCost.com. Our domain was provided free by FreeDNS.afraid.org. Both the domain and the web server itself should be considered temporary! If/when we get funding for the project we may migrate to a more heavyweight hosting environment. You'll always be able to find us by Googling for the currently non-existent word "honeypihive"...

Contacting us

We'll add our contact info when we're ready to discuss the project in more detail.