Possibilities for smart bee management (Precision Beekeeping)

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To assess the status of a honey bee colony, the beekeeper needs to visually inspect the inside of the hive. This procedure is time consuming and may stress the colony. The active monitoring and remote sensing by appropriate ICT solutions (Precision Beekeeping) may be a useful tool to support the management of honey bee health, colony development and even the bee productivity. "The aim of the proposed solution is not to replace but rather to support the beekeeper, who will always remain the crucial factor in the good management of honey bees"[1]. One practice for Precision Beekeeping is the use of Decision Support Systems. Without sufficient data analysis it is not possible to get added value from different bee colony measurement systems. Decision Support System (DSS) can be adapted for the Precision Beekeeping for automatic data analysis and is considered as one of the sub-systems of the Precision Beekeeping. Using different algorithms and models, DSS can help the beekeepers to identify different bee colony states and warn about abnormal situation of the colony. Different bee colony states may have different levels of importance and can be identified with different levels of reliability. DSS can process and combine data related to the bee colony weight, temperature, sound etc. DSS decisions can be split into two groups: individual rules, which are based on single colony monitoring and differential rules, which are based on comparison of different colonies within one apiary.

Event or State of the colony Importance to the beekeeper (from less * to more important ***) Traditional detection method Parameter to measure Technical Feasibility (from easy * to complicated ***) Innovation (from already existing * to new ***) Predictability (from easy * to complicated ***)
1. Start of the mass nectar flow *** Observation of the flight activity outside the hive Weight * * Flowering calendar
End of the nectar flow ** Evaluation of the colony Weight ** * **
Swarming ** Observation of the swarmed colony Temperature, sound, weight *** ** ***
Pre-Swarming ** Visual observation of the colony Sound *** *** -
2. Queenless **(*) Detailed visual observation of the colony Temperature?, sound *** ** -
2. Broodless **(*) Detailed visual observation of the colony Temperature, sound ** ** -
3. Absconding *** Detection afterwards Temperature, weight * *** -
Colony Collapse Disorder ** Detection afterwards Temperature, weight * *** -
4. Death *** Visual observation Temperature, sound, weight? * * -
Colonisation ? Visual observation Temperature, sound, weight * *** Not predictable
Consumption during dearth periods (winter in temperate zones, dry/rainy season in tropical zones) ? ? ? ? ? ?

Biological definitions of states

Technical feasibility/SAMS definitions of states



  1. Zacepins, A., Brusbardis, V., Meitalovs, J., & Stalidzans, E. (2015). Challenges in the development of Precision Beekeeping. Biosystems Engineering, Vol. 130, pp. 60–71.