Archive: BeeMonitor V1

Bee Hive Monitor V1

By Glyn and Clive Hudson

November 2010



Bee hives in North Wales, UK (December 2010)

in situe.jpg

Prototype system in operation


The aim of the experiment is to monitor the temperature inside the cluster of a honey bee colony and to compare this with other temperatures outside the cluster, inside the hive and outside the hive.

If successful, the second phase of the experiment will monitor these temperatures during a bee-keeping year.

A third phase will attempt to monitor the temperatures when the hive is opened for inspection by the bee-keeper.


Crownboard diagram.png


Above: Location of a temperature sensor in the core

Data is obtained from 7 sensors (4 temperature and 3 humidity) located outside, above the crown board and below the crown board, readings are taken and saved to an SD memory card every 60 seconds.

A 3V watch battery and a real-time clock chip (DS1302) is used to time-stamp the readings with the current date and time.

A 12V car battery is used to power the logger. This gives enough power for weeks few months of logging. It is possible, but not yet implemented to put the Arduino microprocessor into ‘sleep’ mode in between readings. This would significantly reduce the power consumption and therefore increase the battery life. See here for more details.


  • Arduino 328
  • Nuelectronics Real-time Datalog & IO Shield + SD card
  • 4 x DS18B20 temperature sensors
  • 3 x DHT11 Temperature and Humidity Module (only used for humidity)  System Diagram_0.png


 Arduino c++ code



To remove sensor jitter I used MATLAB to make a moving average with a window size of 100 (i.e. average over 100 readings, which taken ever 30sec equates to 5min)  to filter the data. A running average filter such as this could be implemented in run-time on the Arduino. In the prototype system the data was post-processed. Click here for MATALB code.

bees filter_0.jpg

Above: The effect of filtering

Data and observations:

December 2010

  • Reasonably strong colony in a modified Commercial hive with 16″x10″ brood frames
  • Colony was a swarm, collected 28th June 2010  and fed with 4Kg of sugar syrup in September
  • Cold settled spell with high pressure dominating the weather
  • Snow with severe overnight frost was present for this period until 10th December when weather became milder

Temp 1st-11th Dec 2010_0.png

  • The surprise of this data was the low temperature in the cluster, never above 11 deg C and as low as 7 deg.
  • The cluster temperature rose by 1-2deg C during the day, sometimes rapidly as the sun raised the ambient and hive temperature.

  • The main observation is that it says very humid in the hive
  • The humidity sensors become saturated above 95% humidity this results in a horizontal line
  • This hive humidity is condensation inside the hive being reduced slightly when the sun was out

 March 2011

  • Same hive as monitored before in December which did survive the cold temperatures
  • There is now sealed brood in the cluster

2nd-9th march 2011 temperature.png

  • Big increase in cluster temperature from December, amazingly steady at about 34deg C
  • All three other temperatures follow each other very closely
  • Even T1, only mm outside the cluster is hardly influenced by the high cluster temperature
  • The bee cluster is amazingly well insulated, keeping nearly all its heat internal

2nd-9th march 2011humidity.png

  • Hive humidity i.e condensation is far less than in December


Other than the facts of the temperature and humidity data that can be read from the graphs, we feel it is too soon from conclusions.


  • at 10 degrees C, brood rearing stops and workers cannot fly
  • at 5.6 degrees C, bees cannot move because their muscles are not warm enough
  • at 4.4 degrees C, bees die

information from:

Other work in the field for bee monitoring

Another Arduino based monitoring system (in development):

Low-cost hive Scales:

On the topic of weight, here is a good looking tutorial for interfacing the Arduino with a load cell. Possibly taken from bathroom scales:

Complete GPRS based commercial bee monitoring systems: and

Excellent live bee hive data graphs from Colorado USA: