4.1.1. Introduction

Over the last few years, new technology has been taken into use in modern beekeeping. For example, electronic hive scales can easily supply the beekeeper/scientist with important information on several important events from honey bee colonies’ life cycles (McLellan, 1977; Buchmann and Thoenes, 1990; Meikle and Holst, 2006). The weight of full colonies (i.e. the summed up weight of the box, combs with food stores and the bees) can be measured to monitor: 1. the occurrence of nectar flow during the foraging season (for examples see Table 11) or daily gain in nectar stores (Meikle et al., 2008; Okada et al., 2012), 2. the reduction of food stores during non-foraging periods (Seeley and Visscher, 1985) and 3. the occurrence of swarming events (Meikle et al., 2008).

All electronic scales are designed following the same basic concept namely to function as a honey meter, much like a weather forecast with which beekeepers can get vital information on the nectar flow, food consumption, but also humidity, temperature, rainfall and brood temperature. Some hive scales also measure wind velocity or sun hours. A state of the art hive scale is designed to automatically transmit these data either directly via internet, to the beekeepers cell phone or to personal computer software.

Since there is an increasing number of scales available on the market, we give a short comparison of three different commercially available electronic and one manual scales in Table 12 and focus on the most widely used Capaz hive scale and its application as a honey meter.

Table 11. Examples of application of hive scale networks: honey meters in different countries.

Name

Country

Webpage

Info

Trachtmeldedienst der Landesverbände Badischer und Württembergischer Imker

Germany

http://lbi.volatus.de/trachtmeldedienst/Trachtmeldedienst.html

Restricted website.

Only for members of the associations.

Nordic/Baltic honey meter

Denmark

www.stadevægt.dk

you can also use: http://biavl.volatus.de/bsm0/BSM.html#

if the Danish letter ‘æ’ is not available on your keyboard

Open website.

Access for all beekeepers.

Apistische Beobachtungen – Waagvölker

Verein deutschschweizerischer und rätoromanischer Bienenfreunde

Switzerland

http://www.vdrb.ch/service/waagvlker.html

Open website.

Access for all beekeepers

(scales offline in winter)

US honey beeneet

United States of America

http://honey beenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sites/reg_map_button.htm

example single scale: http://honey beenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/Sites/ScaleHiveSite.php?SiteID=MD003

Presumably the oldest available hive scale data on the internet.

Most of the scales are manual scales.


Table 12.
Comparison of four different scales. The design of the electronic scales follows the same basic concept.

Name

Capaz

Penso

BeeWatch® Professional

Apiscale

 

figure1 table12

figure2 table12

figure3 table12

figure4 table12

Webpage

www.capaz.de

www.bienenwaage.net

www.beewatch.de

www.beehive-scales.com

Frame

Stainless steel

Stainless steel (green or black colour)

Stainless steel

Stainless steel

Size in mm

(L x W x H)

Fixed frame size

(420 x 480 x 86 mm)

Fixed frame size

(500 x 420 x 70 mm)

520 x 390 – 520 x 60 (adjustable)

Base set on a base under each bee hive

Max. weight measured

200 kg

200  kg

200 kg

160 kg

Accuracy

100 g

100 g

20g

100 g

Temperature range

-10° up to +45° C.*

-30°C to +65°C.

-30 ° C to 60 ° C

 

Electronic transmission

Transmission via wire, contacts.

Wire free transmission,

no contacts

Wire free transmission,

no contacts

Manual

Battery

(build in)

Rechargeable 12 V, 7.2 AH

3x Battery AA

3x Battery AA

no

Battery life

200 days

Scale 2 years,

GMS box 1 year

1 year

no

Sensors:

 

Temperature

Yes – Standard

Yes - Standard

Yes – Standard

no

Humidity

Yes – Standard

Option

Yes – Standard

no

Rain-gauge

Option

Option

Option

no

Weather station

 

Option

Option

no

Brood temperature

Option

 

Option

no

Measurement cycle

Standard 1 or 2 hours – during daytime (but optional)

1 hour

15 min / 30 min / 1 hour

Manual

Software (Standard)

Web and software

Software

Web and software

Manuel web software

Configuration software

Yes

By GMS box

Yes

no

Comment

* Under Scandinavien conditions there have been no problems with temperature down to -40 °C

Transmission of data from scale in the apiary to external GMS box.

figure5 table12

 

Manual scale. Api-Scale system consists of 2 parts a weighing frame and a beehive base set