Hive Scale Research in the Raleigh Area

 

Hive Scale Research in the Raleigh Area Banner

 

Beekeepers keep bees for lots of different reasons, some for a livelihood, others for the honey, but no matter the reasoning, everyone who works with bees is fascinated by them. New technologies such as hive scales can open new insights into what the bees are doing. In addition to potentially learning more about how our colonies are growing and developing, can hive scales provide us additional information that can inform our beekeeping management? Does new technology open up new avenues to not only better understand and appreciate these remarkable creatures, but can it also help us become better beekeepers?

To answer some of these questions, the Bayer Bee Care program is partnering with local beekeepers to better understand the forage availability in the local Raleigh/Durham area using the power of hive scales. We are providing beekeepers from counties in and around the Research Triangle area with electronic hive scales to follow hives throughout the year. Beekeepers will upload hive weight data on a regular basis to share what’s going on in their hives across the region. In the fall after the aster bloom is over, Bayer will use this data with GIS analysis of the apiary within the hive’s foraging range to assess effects of land cover on the timing of nectar flows and the magnitude of weight gain during flows. We hope to get a better idea of how different degrees of development/urbanization, forest and cropland affect the timing, intensity, and duration of nectar flows. By understanding what floral resources bees have access to and when, we hope to help the local beekeeping community better anticipate the nutritional needs of their hives.

Running Graphs

 

West Piedmont Bee Hive Scale Running Graph


South Central Piedmont Bee Hive Scale Running Graph


North Central Piedmont Bee Hive Scale Running Graph


Durham County Bee Hive Scale Running Graph


Wake County Bee Hive Scale Running Graph


East Piedmont Bee Hive Scale Running Graph


Coastal NC Bee Hive Scale Running Graph 



Weekly Updates

August 16th - 22nd





 




The Wester, Central and South Central Piedmont seemed to show steady weight this week. It looks like some hives across Durham and Wake were seeing a slight flow. I am hearing reports of local hives in that area putting on a bit of weight as well and must be a sign that the Golden rod and Asters are in bloom. The Eastern Piedmont showed a slight weight gain this week. The Coastal region continues to be the region with one of the highest weight gains. One hive looks to have put on almost 20 lbs in the last week! Several regions were combined due to the number of hives reported this week.

Special Features

Each week, I get a chance to see what the bees have been up to and how they are responding to their environment through the weight data. As I compile the data and start trying to interpret it, I find new topics to explore and new questions to ask. So as these questions arise, I will take a deeper dive into the data in this special feature section! I will pull in other data sets and set up side experiments to try and better understand drivers of weight change. In doing so, I hope to provide greater insight into how folks can use weight data to better understand their hive.

Resources:


FAQ

What is an electronic hive scale?

It’s a battery operated scale that measures the weight of the hive. The Solutionbee scales involved in this project take weight readings every 15 minutes, although there are many other scale models and some that read and transmit the data in real time. Just google “hive scale” to see all of the different groups offering this kind of technology!

What insight can a scale provide?

Hive weight data can show a countless number of activities in the hive and as more people start working with this technology, the more we will learn! So far, we’ve been able to see swarm events, robbing, nectar processing and nectar flows.

Why is Bayer interested in hive scales?

We acknowledge there are many factors affecting bee health, with nutrition playing a major role. This information will provide a better idea of what floral resources are available for sustaining healthy hives in the local areas and how best to work with unique landscapes to alleviate the stress of limited forage.

Hasn't this already been done?

We fully acknowledge the efforts of many other groups who have worked extensively with scale data (go to https://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/ and http://hivetool.net/ to see some long term national level scale data). With this project, we hope to provide local beekeepers with the tools to assess the nectar landscape in their own backyard.

What will Bayer do with the data and how will we receive updates?

We will post reports of the weight data on a weekly basis throughout the active season into early October. After the bees begin to wind down for winter, we will put together a comprehensive report using the GIS data and share it on this page. We will then bring in all of the participating beekeepers and decide how best to move forward with the project and provide monthly updates throughout the winter.

Why is Bayer interested in bee health?

Bayer is interested in finding solutions to increase yields and protect pollinators which are critical to food production and agricultural sustainability. For nearly 30 years, Bayer has been committed to environmental stewardship and the protection of beneficial insects and bees. By funding grants for bee health research, exploring new chemistries for potential miticides, and engaging in outreach and education, we strive to protect the health of both honey bees and native bees. In addition to general bee health research initiatives, as part of our commitment to environmental stewardship, all of the chemicals we develop go through rigorous bee toxicity testing to ensure that when our products are used properly, they pose little risk to insect pollinators. Learn more about pollinator risk assessment at https://www.epa.gov/pollinator-protection/how-we-assess-risks-pollinators.