This is where I keep bees. Five colonies currently. Link: https://www.facebook.com/bijenstalbreukelen/
How do I know if the bees are well? By inspecting the colony. But could I know this from a distance and be able to
check this at all times? In short: I wondered what one can measure on a beehive and how..
I published a blog on the subject in March 2016. Link: http://martenschoonman.blogspot.nl/2016/03/digital-
While doing research I stumbled upon a presentation by Hivetool. This graph made me very enthusiastic. So it is
possible! It is even possible to see from the weight change in the morning that a large number of bees left to
forage! Link: http://hivetool.net/hive_reports/hivetool_2Apr14.ppt
I got in touch with various people interested in the same subject and dedicated in taking this forward together.
Here some photos of meetings and brainstorms hosted by Beelease in Amsterdam mostly.
In the meeting discussing the biggest needs of the beekeepers and where they can be supported, we concluded a
user-friendly free digitale record keeping app combined with an affordable measurement system makes most
sense. Here a photo of my paper-based record keeping system. Not the most handy tool in this day and age of
apps for everything.
Pim van Gennip of Iconize worked on the designs of the first version of the platform, which we called Beep.
Here an example of an early design which was reviewed and further improved.
With great contribution by Dirk Dekker of Beelease organising a crowdfunding campaign and finding corporate
supporters and also sharing a wealth of beekeeping experience, and the design and technical development by
Pim van Gennip and support by Bente Deenekamp, the development of version 1 was made possible. It was
released in July 2017. See here several screenshots of the Beep app. You can try and use the app via
http://beep.nl/ It is free of charge, made possible by sponsors. A manual with screenshots is available. It is a
‘webapp’ and works on both mobile phones, tablets and websites but is not (yet) available in the app stores.
Inspection log items
An analysis was done of the items that belong in the record keeping app. In version 1 we choose to go for the
‘minimal viable product’; the key items to include. In two languages: English and Dutch.
Bee data taxonomy in Beep v2
However for version 2 (to become available spring 2018) of the Beep app we include a feature for a beekeepers to
make their own list with items to include on the inspection log. To keep the data organised and (if needed) suitable
for scientific analysis, we created a data structure, or: bee data taxonomy, that the beekeepers can choose from.
Here above you see the subjects of the main branches of this taxonomy.
Bijen data taxonomie
Every main branch has a range of data fields underneath. In this example some data for the queen bee is shown.
The icons show the type of field. A taxonomy editor is built in the admin module of Beep. The taxonomy can easily
be edited, e.g. adding an item to a list.
Hardware: Here you see the first concept of the hive weight scale underneath the hive. It was installed for the first
time in December 2016.
Here the weight sensors are visible. An Arduino Autonomo is used of Sodaq and data is transmitted via GSM. Pim
van Gennip built the concept. It worked beautifully for the whole of 2017. Some examples of the data...
This is an example of the weight data visible in the Beep app. A swarm left in the morning hours (around two kilos
weight drop). Several hours later the swarm was found and placed in a hive. The peak in the afternoon is the
colony in a bucket placed on the hive.
4 April 2017
Here an example of the data from April 2017 measured with the concept weight scale. Bees leave in the morning
to forage. The weight increases in the daytime with nectar (and water and pollen) and decreases again in the night
because of ventilation (turning nectar into honey). Software used: Grafana.
20 April 2017
Later in the month the colony collects net around 2.5 kgs in a day!
28 Juni 2017
But in end of June ‘nectar dearth’ hits, hardly any flowers available but lots of mouths to feed in the hive. The
weight rapidly decreases and I need to keep an eye on their stock.
Example: brood temperature
Some example from the commercially available hive monitoring tool Arnia: two hives in which the temperature in
the brood is monitored. When stable all is well. In one hive something is clearly off. For more reading see
Example: swarm and brood
The captions on the graph explain what happens: swarms leave the colony shown as sudden weights drops. The
fertilised queen has left with the swarm. The colony that stays behind needs the a fertilised queen to continue
breeding. This takes time. When the temperature in the brood is stable mid July, the beekeepers knows all is well.
For more reading: http://www.arnia.co.uk/after-the-swarm/
Example: robbery (Arnia)
There is a sudden sharp decrease of weight of the hive over two days while the colony makes more noise then
normally. A case of one colony robbing the stock from this monitored hive. The beekeeper is aware of this and can
make sure the colony does not die of hunger. For more reading: http://www.arnia.co.uk/mind-the-gap/
The movement of bees in and out of the hives provided information on how active they are. This beecounter
images is from a DIY site: http://www.instructables.com/id/Honey-Bee-Counter-II/
With great help of Marcel Horck of Stadsimkerij Tilburg for enabling the sponsoring, we are now (early 2018)
developing a prototype version of the open source Beep hive scale with additional sensors as indicated above.
Beep makes use of experience shared open source on Hiveeyes.org. 10 prototypes will be made and testing in
the coming period. Data transmission will be via wifi and LoRa. It operates on batteries and is water resistant.
Team and supporters
A overview of how Beep is organised and who plays which role.
Team and sponsors
A list of the sponsors supporting the development of Beep
Because of the involvement of various people and the open collaboration approach of Beep, various tools are
used to ease the communication and collaboration which include Slack and Trello
• Further enhance the platform
– affordable, open source system for
monitoring the health of bee colonies
– Strong visual user interface
(see example on the right)
– data interpretation and alerting
– integrate weather and other data
• Usage by others
– app in multiple languages
– use of the taxonomy
– open source co-development: see github