Friday, 22 March 2019 09:18

Keeping an eye on honey in real time

Written by 
Bruce Trevarthen. Bruce Trevarthen.

A Hamilton company has developed a real-time system that enables beekeepers to see data on their hives’ weight, temperature and humidity.

ModuSense founder Bruce Trevarthen says the aim is to help beekeepers better understand their hives, the site they’re on and how the bees are performing, and so produce a better yield at harvest time and reduce costs along the way. 

The company says that typically a beekeeper’s first opportunity to see how a hive is performing is on the day of harvesting – something that usually involves helicopters, trucks and personnel. Then it’s too costly to change the harvesting schedule if required. 

ModuSense beams real-time data directly back to the beekeeper for review. 

 “Hives tend to be placed in remote, difficult-to-access locations, making them hard to monitor,” he says. “That means it’s not until the beekeeper goes in to retrieve the hive that he can see how the hive has performed. 

“We wanted to provide beekeepers with a way of checking up on the hive without having to tramp to the site or fly in by helicopter -- costly in time and money.” 

ModuSense commercial-grade equipment can tell a beekeeper how well the hive is performing and when to go in to get the maximum yield from the hives. 

“We place sensors in the hive to test for temperature and humidity and put the whole thing on a purpose-built scale to measure weight. Information is sent back to the beekeeper via wireless signal or by satellite for truly remote operations.” 

Beekeepers can track activity at the hive and decide whether to harvest on a commercial scale without travelling to the site 

“We can see what times of the day the bees head out, what time of day they return, how much honey is being produced and whether the hive is active or not. 

“In our trials we’ve seen commercial operators make the call to keep hives working when they’re doing well and seen them intervene when a hive isn’t producing,” Trevarthen explains.

“We’ve spent almost three years in pre-production, building test kit and working with our partners to thrash them about, to put them through the rigours of life a standard beehive will experience. As a result, we’ve got a solution geared to the needs of a commercial operation -- a first in New Zealand and around the world.” 

With phase one of the product now proven, the company is looking at additions to the gear. 

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