Honey bees have played a major role in the history and development of humankind, in particular for nutrition and agriculture. The most important role of the western honey bee (Apis mellifera) is that of pollination. A large amount of crops consumed throughout the world today are pollinated by the activity of the honey bee. It is estimated that the total value of these crops stands at 155 billion euro annually. The goal of the work outlined in this paper was to use wireless sensor network technology to monitor a colony within the beehive with the aim of collecting image and audio data. These data allows the beekeeper to obtain a much more comprehensive view of the in-hive conditions, an indication of flight direction, as well as monitoring the hive outside of the traditional beekeeping times, i.e. during the night, poor weather, and winter months.
This paper outlines the design of a fully autonomous beehive monitoring system which provided image and sound monitoring of the internal chambers of the hive, as well as a warning system for emergency events such as possible piping, dramatically increased hive activity, or physical damage to the hive. The final design included three wireless nodes: a digital infrared camera with processing capabilities for collecting imagery of the hive interior; an external thermal imaging camera node for monitoring the colony status and activity, and an accelerometer and a microphone connected to an off the shelf microcontroller node for processing. The system allows complex analysis and sensor fusion. Some scenarios based on sound processing, image collection, and accelerometers are presented. Power management was implemented which allowed the system to achieve energy neutrality in an outdoor deployment with a 525 × 345 mm solar panel.