Triangulating with feeding stations

Visscher and Seeley (1989) described a method to locate the approximate location of a honey bee colony by triangulation using multiple feeding stations. Refer to Fig. 25 for the following methodology.

  1. Place two feeding stations at an arbitrary distance from one another (c, baseline) and mark each one’s location on a map or GPS and calculate the distance between the two using the map legend or GPS function. If you are placing the feeding stations in the same open area or forest clearing, place them at least a couple hundred meters from each other. It may also be useful to find two different clearings in a forest to set up the feeding stations.
  2. Calculate the angles (A and B) of the beelines from the baseline with a compass or GPS. This can be done easily on a handheld GPS or compass by recording difference in degrees between the direction of the opposite feeding station and the beeline.
  3. Calculate the angle from the honey bee nest (C) to each feeding station.
    Equation 3
    4. Using the ‘law of sines’, calculate the distances from each feeding station (a and b) to the nest.
         Equation 4
  4. Mark the approximate location of the nest on a map or as a new waypoint on the handheld GPS.
  5. Follow the beeline from either feeding station toward the colony for the calculated distance and search the area for the nest.


Pros: potentially reduce searching time by calculating the approximate location of the bee nest, especially in a heavily wooded area.

Cons: beelines may be from different colonies and do not converge on the same location.

Fig. 25. Triangulating the location of a honey bee nest using two feeding stations. A, B, and C represent angles and a, b, and c represent the length of the sides opposite their respective angle. Arrowed lines represent beelines to and from each feeding station.