*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 (www.raspberrypi.org), 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.