One of the critical elements of the Cozy Bee Project’s research is the ability to track temperature and humidity within my hives. When I’d originally envisioned the project, I was imagining using small data loggers, like are used in warehouses and for building performance analysis. They are about the size of a thumb drive (and will therefore fit inside a beehive), and are self-contained units that record temperature and humidity data at prescribed intervals, storing the data internally until you download it into your computer through the USB port.
However, it was my great fortune to meet Bob from Bee Certain very early in my fundraising. He designs and sells hive monitors that do exactly what I want, but better! Not only do his monitors sense temperature and humidity, but they also transmit it wirelessly to a central base station. To download the data, you simply log into the base station via WiFi from your computer and it all happens wirelessly- it’s instant, with no honey/ wax/ bee goop on your laptop. When I found out that his system was only about 3% more expensive than what I had budgeted for manual data loggers, I switched immediately.
But wait, that’s not even the best part. Turns out that the Bee Certain system of hive monitors is a really new product… so new, that I’m the beta tester. This is great, because Bob is working with me to design the software to meet my performance and functional requirements. It’s like having a staff computer coder and electronics engineer. We’ve made several enhancements to the web interface and data rendering, as well as some changes to the actual hardware design, since the first demo units he shipped me several weeks ago. On Monday, he delivered the “final” product:
- 20 in-hive sensors. They are the doodads with the red conformal coating. They have little antennas that broadcast the temperature and humidity telemetry at 10-minute intervals.
- 3 environmental sensors, for collecting ambient weather data outside of the hives. They are the white tubes, and also broadcast every 10 minutes.
- 2 system monitors. Each is a fully functioning miniature PC running linux and hosting an apache web server, built on the Raspberry Pi platform, as well as a WiFi hot spot. All the data is stored on the server and then downloaded to my laptop whenever I feel like getting it.
I can’t want to get this installed. We will be refining the hardware and software more as the research wears on, and it’s becoming a neat side project. Much like the space program gave us nifty stuff like Velcro, Teflon, and Tang, the Cozy Bee Project will hopefully spin off a really awesome Bee Certain hive monitoring system.