Last winter, backyard beekeepers lost almost 40 percent of their honeybee colonies — the highest losses ever recorded. As a beekeeper, the health of your hives is your No. 1 priority. Thanks to modern beekeeping technologies, experienced and novice beekeepers can keep their bees happy, healthy and safe. Whether you oversee a handful of hives or care for an entire apiary, these five technological tools can help you become a better beekeeper.
Good beekeepers keep good records, and modern beekeeping technology makes collecting info more efficient. HiveTracks offers a digital alternative to monitoring changes in your hives. Both commercial beekeepers and hobbyists can use this cloud-based software to record hive conditions, such as population, temperament, brood pattern and honey stores. HiveTracks can also snap photos, map where your bees are foraging and remind you about important tasks, such as feedings and inspections. Plans start at $5 per month for five hives.
2. Thermosolar Hive
This modern beekeeping technology protects against pests that might wipe out your colony, or otherwise require chemical treatments. The patented Thermosolar Hive has a rooftop solar panel that heats the hive’s interior to a temperature that bees can tolerate but dangerous Varroa mites cannot. The inventors say that the thermo-solar energy can also boost colony expansion and honey collection up to 75 percent. Prices start at $538.
3. Bee Smart
The Bee Smart Pollinator Gardener app helps you select bee-friendly plants. Browse its plant database by light or soil requirements, bloom time, color or which pollinators they attract. While it was originally designed to help gardeners, beekeepers can use the free app to provide more forage for their colonies.
This smart bee management system can help you track everything from afar. The BuzzBox Mini hive health monitor — a small sensor that attaches to the side of your beehive — monitors sounds inside the hives. It uses artificial intelligence to detect issues like missing queens, swarming and parasites. The sensor also monitors temperature, humidity and barometric pressure around the beehive. Receive alerts via a smartphone app if something is amiss. BuzzBox costs $199.
5. Flow Hive
The 2015 crowdfunding campaign for the Flow Hive raised more than $13.2 million, making it one of the most successful campaigns in crowdfunding history. It allows beekeepers to harvest honey by turning a lever to start the flow, which means no more opening the hive to extract each frame and disturb your bees. A second-generation design, Flow Hive 2, includes small design tweaks such as a harvesting shelf to hold honey jars. Prices start at $499.
The Buzz on Insurance
Is your beekeeping operation protected? Your Farm Bureau agent can help with this insurance questions and any others. Contact your local agent today and make sure you’re fully protected.