Bee counter sensor – accuracy evaluation

An optical bee counter, developed by Canetis and Irideon as a tool for beekeepers to assess colony activity and identify invasive pests entering the hive, is at the heart of this project which will  build on it’s design so that it can track specific behavioural patterns relating to foraging activity. This is particularly relevant during periods of peak foraging activity as is often seen during crop pollination.

The new sensor will play an integral role in Beehero’s development of server and User Interface for the analysis and presentation of key pollination metrics to be commercialised in continuously growing multi billion pollination market.

One of the first functional considerations for this tool is accuracy. Taking into account that during a typical active day a colony of bees makes in excess of 100 000 foraging trips, even the smallest inaccuracies quickly amount to discrepancies going into thousands.

Using a well established methodology, termed “Robbers-test” (*), we have set up an ongoing monitoring at our experimental apiary in Italy. Briefly, the test consists of fitting empty hives with a bee counter and a precise quantity of sugar syrup inside the top feeder. Robber bees visit the hive in increasing numbers to feed and then return to their home hive. This scenario creates a high flow of traffic through the bee counter thus enabling us to accurately measure the performance of the bee counter. The results will guide the work on improving the accuracy of the counter which will likely involve adjusting the thresholds according to the situation in the field, such as traffic volume and sunlight levels.


Robber’s test

bee counter

(*) Struye M.H. (2001) Possibilities and limitations of monitoring the flight activity of honey bees by means of BeeSCAN bee counters in: Belzunces L.P., Pélissier C., Lewis G.B. (Eds.), Hazards of pesticides to bees, Paris, INRA, les Colloques no98, pp. 269–275.

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