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


Western Piedmont Hive Scale Running Graph

East Piedmont Hive Scale Running Graph

Wake County Hive Scale Running Graph

Durham Running Hive Scale Graph

Central Piedmont Hive Scale Running Graph

Coastal NC Hive Scale Running Graph

Weekly Updates


Western Piedmont February Hive Scale Graph

Central Piedmont February Hive Scale Graph

Durham County February Hive Scale Graph

Wake County February Hive Scale Graph

East Piedmont February Hive Scale Graph

Coastal NC February Hive Scale Graph

Well time is flying and spring has sprung! There’s plenty of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers bursting with blooms and the bees are certainly starting to build up. From those I’ve talked to and from my own hives (Durham-Page hives) they are packed with brood and even drone brood. I didn’t see any queen cells in my hives last week but I know that will likely change quite quickly-so prepare yourselves for swarm season!

The spring nectar flow will be coming soon but at the moment, the amount of pollen coming in is pretty mind blowing! Check out the weekly pollen samples from the bee center to see what we’re trapping off the bees in Research Triangle-spoiler alert, last week they collected ½ a pound of pollen within 24 hours! With that much pollen coming in it’s clear that brood production has taken off!

We had a wonderful workshop with a great turnout of folks in the project! We brainstormed some new applications for the project, new features to add onto solution bee (thanks to the help of Rafael and his team) and got to share lots of great bee stories! We will be continuing the project through the year focusing on nectar availability in different landscapes. Several folks have been able to get their apiaries set up on scales and for those folks, we will take a deeper dive using detailed management notes to understand how management decisions can impact the ability of the bees to capitalize on a nectar resource.

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.



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 and 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