Scientists from the University of Nottingham Trent in the United Kingdom have developed and tested a new prototype device. A device that can remotely track the activity of the hive without distributing the bees. The device receives and immediately analyzes vibration and a special kind of bee buzzing. The device, as described, successfully monitors all the changes in bees colony behavior for 24-hours, noticing specific bees signals.
“We want to develop an effective tool, if necessary, to find out the status of colonies. Are bees starving there, is there enough food in the hive or if, perhaps, the colony is preparing for swarming.” said Martin Bencsik, a scientist in the School of Science & Technology at the University of Nottingham Trent.
Swarming, as it is known, occurs when the queen and a large group of worker bees leave the hive in search for a new home. Most, beekeepers, except those who sell swarms, do not want their bees to leave the hive. They in many different ways prevent swarming or, at least, try to have swarming in control. By removing the queen cells from which a new queen should spawn or adding extra space for the bees to make them “convinced” that time for swarming still did not come.
Bee signals functions
It is important to know the habits of bees and to spend a lot of time with them to understand such phenomena. But with that beekeeper still needs to open the hive if he thinks that he should check the status of the colony. Martin Bencsik and his colleagues with a help of small accelerometers, sensors in the hive, can collect data from a remote location without opening the hive. One sensor is in the middle of the honeycomb and another one seven centimeters lower. After devices installation, they continuously record all vibrations in a hive.
“Bees use comb cells for pollen, brood and honey close to the built-in device quite normal, so that does not bother them too much in the way of work.” explained Bencsik.
For data analysis, the team has developed a special software that aims to detect the audio signal that bees use. Scientists believe that bees use signals for food, but previous knowledge of bees suggest that signal can also tell us about some other activities of bees. The actual function of some signals are now still disputed or challenged, but for some with high confidence, we can know what they mean.
Bencsik and his colleagues used daily rhythms and the frequency of a signal, there is a clear decline when the colony enters the colder months. He notes that long-term monitoring can help beekeepers with bee activities among professionals. But also including, small amateur beekeepers who need something to convince him that everything is fine with their bees and that there is no need to disturb them, at least not too often.
His father has been keeping bees for fifty years and interest in bees has been handed down for years, from father to son. Although Bencsik spent much of his professional career in the study of magnetic resonance, he began to search for a way to keep track of bees eight years ago. He said “I love bees, they are so interesting that I have finally started and seriously investigate them”