Following on from my previous posts about a tool or piece of technology that can be used to monitor bee hives and the status of bee’s; I’m pleased to announce the next step of my development of this project.

Originally code named ‘BeePi’ because I was building on the Raspberry Pi computer system, I have developed it further and it has evolved into ‘BeeSafe’ – a micro monitoring tool used to monitor the status of a bee hive.

BeeSafe Features:

Accelerometer External Environment Sensor
Abient Temperature Sensor Magnetic Switch Alarm
Brood Temperature Sensor LED Status Lights

Which will allow me to work out:

Current temperature of Bee cluster in the Hive – Are the Bees still alive
Current temperature of the environment around the hive – Are the bee’s likely to be active
If the Hive is open – Is someone doing something to the Hive
If the hive has fallen over – Has an animal or something caused the hive to fall over exposing the inside of the hive
If the hive is being moved – Useful if you think your Hive is being stolen
Quick Traffic light: Red, Amber or Green Status of the Hive

This is the first picture of the base PCB that will operate BeeSafe:

Bee Safe Base PCB

Bee Safe Base PCB

As you can see, it still requires a lot of work including soldering all the components to the board and then programming the system to detect and report from the various sensors.

From a software perspective at the Hive level, I need to start writing how and what the software will do, how often it will record measurements, what the traffic light system will show to the users, what data will be submitted to the cloud for capture and in what frequency.

Next stop is the cloud.. While I have ideas on what data I want to capture. I need to nail down specifications on what I want the cloud to do and how I want the cloud to be engaged by users.

Web, Email, Text and API are all things I want included in the project but the balance is finding out the best way to include them. If your Hive was broken into – would you want a text message saying that? What about on-demand reporting about how your hives are doing? What about logging in to your hive in the middle of winter to confirm that the bee cluster is overwintering well and that the temperature internally isn’t dropping too low (a sign the bees are starving and dying off).

I hope to manufacture these boards in greater numbers once I have developed this initial PCB, confirming that all the components work in the way they should and that I have suitable demand for the BeeSafe Project.


In a previous post ( I described an idea I had to make use of a Raspberry Pi as a local sensor tool on a bee hive, a project I’ve dubbed ‘BeePi’.

Below is a small requirement chart for the projects needs and potential:

Requirement Must Have Would Like To Have Nice To Have
Internal Hive Temp Sensor Yes
External Hive Temp Sensor Yes
XYZ Accelerometer Yes
High Capacity Battery Yes
Solar Charging Battery Charger Yes
WiFi Transmitter Yes
WiFi Hub Yes
3G Connectivity Yes
Hive Disassembly Sensor Yes
RFID Antenna Yes
Weather Station Yes

While all of these could be rolled into a singular project, but it makes sense to break up development into phases based on real world requirements and (of course) money.

A lot of what is required for this project exists in singular projects already published by the Raspberry Pi community, a large following of users are making use of the Maplin USB Weather Station (, GPIO Temperature Sensor(s) ( and RFiD Reader ( The use of a 3G and / or WiFi dongle makes sending data exceptionally easy as the OS will handle any of the connecting to the internet / network leaving any software to make / receive API calls and store the data where appropriate.

The use of the BeePi as a WiFi Hub is also worth considering if you have more than one hive in a location it makes sense to have a singular hub / data collecting server that all of the other BeePi’s connect to. There are many tutorials on the internet that show you how to turn your Raspberry Pi into a WiFi hub and make use of a singular 3G dongle to connect them all to the internet (Or even host the database locally).

After a bit of juggling and budgeting my Phase One build will look like this:

Internal Hive Temp Sensor
External Hive Temp Sensor
XYZ Accelerometer
High Capacity Battery
Solar Charging Battery Charger
USB WiFi Transmitter

I don’t want to host the data from the hive locally (on the BeePi), so I will write a program to gather up the sensor data periodically and then send the data to a database hosted somewhere (more to come on that as it is developed).

I want to capture the internal brood temperature, external atmospheric temperature, XYZ geometry of the hive. The BeePi will be powered by a chunky long life battery which will be maintained by a solar panel. The hive will be connected to my WiFi network via USB WiFi stick.

To aide development and keep phases in line with each other I will design any PCB’s to include the optional bits; RFiD reader, Hive Disassembly Sensor, 3G data stick. So that should I need to add these to my project or as requirements change I don’t have to go back to square one and make a new base-board.

For the sensors I am going to be using; I’ve chosen to keep things simple:

Internal and External Temperature Sensor: DS18B20 3 Pin 1 wire temperature, these are particularly handy and cool as you can connect several to the same GPIO pin but capture data from them all separately via serial interface. The tutorial guide I am using is: (

XYZ Accelerometer: ADXL345 a simple I2C accelerometer which you connect  via the BeePi’s GPIO Pins (

Power and Solar: Power will come from a 12V 7AmpHour battery which will be charged via solar panel regulated with a solar charge controller. The board I will design will take 12V and step down to 5V which will be used to power the Raspberry Pi, WiFi and connected devices. The hope is that the battery and sun will maintain the project indefinitely however as this is all theoretical (at time of writing!) I may need A) a bigger battery B) a bigger solar panel C) BOTH.

While you can source all of these components from UK distributors, I HIGHLY recommend looking at eBay and sellers who are based on HK or china as I have found the price difference to be considerable between UK and Asian sellers.

More to come as the project develops!

*FYI this idea is still a concept and needs to be ironed out!*

It’s worth mentioning one of the great technology releases of 2011 / 2012 was the Raspberry PI (, a credit card sized computer powered by an ARM processor which can run a select few flavours of Linux.

One of the great selling points of the Pi, are it’s GPIO Pins (General Input Output Pins) which allows you to connect up a vast multitude of sensors, lights, relays directly to the Pi and engage with it via the command line or computer program.

As an avid bee keeper I have spent my last few summers tending to a few bee hives, growing up two colonies to hopefully gather up lots of honey for me! (a treat I love!).

At a recent bee keeping event I ran into a man who had developed a bee hive sensor that is able to be placed inside the bee hive to capture a number of different aspects of a bee hive, such as; temperature, hive geometry to name a few. It was a great product but A) well out of my price range and B) not flexible enough to further development.

So I thought to myself, could I make something similar and what would it look like. Well the short answer is yes, and below are the (incomplete) specifications for what I would want my ‘BeePi” to look like and operate.

Project BeePi; An autonomous data gathering tool use to sense, collect and report back on a bee hive and hive surroundings.

It will feature;

Sensors:Hive internal temperature sensor, external temperature sensor, XYZ accelerometer and hive disassembly removal sensor.

Communications: The BeePi can connect via Wifi to a hub, Wifi to a master BeePi (collecting data from a whole apiary) or communicate via a 3G/4G dongle. Potential exists for a RFID based  ‘Check-In & Check-Out’ style system – useful if many people manage the hives in a particular area.

What will these sensors do?

Well, imagine your bee-hive(s) is located in an area where you suspect animals (or people) could knock the bee hive over. Using the accelerometer when the box is turned at an angle (for example being knocked over) the BeePi could send a message (via sms, pre-recorded message or email) with details about the hive, its location and at what time the event occurred.

Using an internal temperature sensor placed close to the cluster of the hive in the brood box it will give you an indication on the current status of your bees, including if the queen is laying and overall health of the hive. Typically happy brood = happy hive.

An external sensor placed close to the enterence the hive will give you an indication on if the bees are flying, as generally lower than 13 – 10c and they will stay inside and keep warm.

Hive disassembly sensor will alert you to when your hive is being dissembled, this could be handy if you believe someone is stealing from your hive and you wish to track times and events.

I believe that this is a valuable idea and project and will document my progress as I develop it further.