written by Marco Pietropaoli, Giovanni Formato, INSIGNIA Consortium
For the INSIGNIA project (“Environmental monitoring of pesticide use through honey bees” PP-1-1-2018) (https://www.insignia-bee.eu) our laboratory in parallel with other project partners from Denmark (Danish Beekeepers Association), Netherlands (Stichting Wageningen Research) and Latvia (Latvian Beekeepers Association) is carrying out a small field trial to check the relation between colony size and forage activity in order to calculate the exposome.
How to count honey bees flying out of the hive? Thanks to Beecounters!
They are light plastic boxes with a micro-processor powered with a 12V current (Figure 1). Just put them at the hive entrance, power on and that’s it!
In few minutes, foragers recognize the new entrance and move in and out of the colony (Figure 2).
The Beecounter used at IZSLT count the number of bees entering and exiting the hive thanks to photocells (Figure 3).
Beecounters, once in position, can be left on hives for all the year and it is possible to download data through WIFI or a USB cable.
Let’s give a look at the outputs: in figure 4 are shown the inputs (green bars) and outputs (red bars) of a very strong colony during summer time. A total of 122’667 movements in the hive and 136’920 outside.
What happens? During the night? They are not bees flights, of course, just bees moving through the Beecounter for different purposes like temperature control, guard, etc…
In figure 5, another colony during winter time (Rome, 25 December). Very few foragers moving, only during the hottest hours.
Did you know that the entrance of a strong colony is more crowded than the biggest airport in the world? More than 100’000 flights every day!
Stay tuned on INSIGNIA website for the updates!