Sensor enables beekeepers to catch bees before they swarm


Illustration for the article titled This sensor allows beekeepers to catch bees before they dirty each other

Photo: Herbert Aumann

Our friends the bees have certain behaviors that are not healthy for the hive and are scary to passersby. One behavior, the swarm, occurs when A hive naturally divides with a group of bees that follow a new queen. This is a delicate time for the hive and could result in hungry bees and a dead queen. In other words, it is bad.

A beekeeper, Herbert M. Aumann, has a solution. Its system is a small vibration and motion sensor that attaches to the outside of a hive and transmits data on the behavior of bees. Beekeepers can divide the hives before the swarm begins, so this system uses the two sensors to detect the behavior before it cascades.

“This sensor is connected to the outside of a hive, near the entrance to the hive,” Aumann wrote in a study at IEEE Sensors Letters. “The outward-facing sensor is a 24 GHz continuous-wave Doppler radar to monitor the flight activity of bees. The inward-facing sensor is a piezoelectric transducer. Unlike a conventional microphone that picks up the sounds that the bees make, the piezoelectric transducer picks up the incidental vibrations transmitted by the activity of the bees to the structure of the hive. “

The system then calculates the probability of a swarm and notifies the beekeeper so he can keep his little yellow and black cargoes safe. When the bees gather before a swarm, the sensor will detect vibrations from the event, allowing the beekeeper to stop the activity by modifying the hive box enough to keep the bees in place. The sensor can also notify the beekeeper of theft events when bees from outside a hive take over an entire hive and steal honey from weaker bees.

“Since I had spent my career building radar systems to track small targets, I thought I could use a low-power radar to observe bees from about ten feet away. In fact, it could, “Aumann said. Spectrum. “Surprisingly, the signals that the radar picked up could be turned into an acoustic signal that sounded exactly like the signal that would be heard standing next to the hive.”

Has built a startup Maine Biosensors, to produce these electronic products for beekeepers who want to keep their little honey-producing friends healthy and happy. He is not selling them yet, but he hopes to have consumer models soon.

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