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Step aside, smoker, there’s a new tool in town.

While we do use smokers among many other traditional beekeeping tools and equipment, including the time-tested 10-frame Langstroth hives. Greg also applies his many years of professional experience in technology to take advantage of the latest advancements in the world of beekeeping.

A little more about the Langstroth hive and bee space:

In 1851, Reverend Lorenzo Lorraine Langstroth observed that when bees have less than 9 mm (3⁄8 inch), but more than 6 mm (1⁄4 inch) of space available inside the hive, they’d either fill it with burr comb (not useful for filling with brood or honey) to bridge the gap, or they’d close it with propolis—the brown, glue-like substance bees make to fill in cracks to seal the inside of the hive. Today, beekeepers refer to this measurement as bee space.

Once Langstroth made this discovery, he went on to design his namesake hive to take both bee space into account, as well as beekeepers’ needs. Inside the boxes, called supers, the frames hang vertically. This allows beekeepers to easily remove and inspect each frame, one at a time. Supers can be added for the expansion (or removed for contraction) of the ever-changing population of the hive in increments. Beekeepers also add honey supers (no brood, just honey) as needed during peak honey flow periods. This simple discover and hive design completely industrialized beekeeping.

Here’s an image of a traditional Langstroth hive:

At Sycamore Creek Apiary, we’ve attached wireless electronic sensors to each of our hives, so that we can weigh each hive remotely. This data gives us important insights into whether or not the bees are storing enough honey to make it through the winter, or if we need to provide supplemental syrup or pollen patties. It also reduces the frequency with which we actually need to open up the hives. Studies have shown that disturbing the hives multiple times unnecessarily during critical times (read: nectar flow) can vastly reduce honey production.

Here is an image that show how these sensors are connected to the hives, as well as some images of the data these sensors provide:

These sensors also allow us to monitor internal and external temperatures, internal humidity of the hives, and acoustics from within each of the hives. Why do these metrics matter? Humidity inside the hive during winter months can be detrimental. A trained beekeeper can also detect “the mood” of the girls through the collective acoustics of the hive. An unwelcome visit from the neighborhood skunk can really get them riled up, for instance. Put another way, one best wait another day before cracking open the hive cover, lest he/she is interested in giving bee venom therapy a go.

Soon, we hope to share this data with the community via a live-streaming feed on this website, so that you can observe firsthand what’s happening, and how these sensors are integrated into our approach to hive management.

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