Process and Control Today | Outdoor enclosures help protect bees with housing for hive monitoring device

As it is endangered in Britain, the conservation of bees is important. Measuring the right temperature and humidity inside the hive is important, so monitoring these conditions is important in understanding how to protect our bees. One keen beekeeping engineer has set his sights on developing an electronic sensor that is durable enough to survive the winter in northern Scotland. He turned to Spelsberg to provide casings that would ensure long-lasting, reliable monitoring.

Pollination of trees, plants, and plants important to the preservation of our environment and food supply, bees are important to the environment of the world. Since the 1970s, the number of bees in the UK has been declining, and in order to deal with the potential environmental crisis, initiatives such as the Department for Food, Environment, and Rural Affairs’ (DEFRA) Healthy Bees Plan 2030 have been launched.

Measures to reverse the decline of bees have also received support from trade and agriculture, and areas planted with pollinated crops have increased by more than a third since 1989 (2). As well as caring for the insects themselves, beekeepers have a strong interest in the health of the hives for honey production, especially when measured at the commercial level.

Ensuring the increase in the number of bees requires good conditions inside the hive, including temperature and humidity. If the hive gets too cold, the bees can die, which can result in the loss of the entire hive if the queen dies. Meanwhile, humidity can cause condensation, which not only causes mold and rot, but cold water droplets can also kill bees.

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Near Ellon in Aberdeenshire, a number of hives are looked after by beekeeping enthusiast, Rae Younger. Northern Scotland suffers from shorter summers than most of Britain, giving people less time to make the honey they will rely on for energy during the long and cold winter. In this climate nest health is more important than ever.

Rae has been building a monitoring device that will provide round-the-clock alerts on the health of the hive. The device includes electronic sensors and a microprocessor so, like nest monitors, the device needs to be protected from the harsh Scottish winters and protected from inquisitive wildlife.

“I had previously used Spelsberg enclosures in my day job in the oil and gas industry and was very impressed,” said Rae. “They were weather resistant to waterproof and impact resistant, lightweight and easy to install. In addition, the company was able to provide customization and engineering support, which made them more cost-effective. “

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With five nests and a monitoring device for each, Rae used a Spelsberg TG enclosure, which provides IP67 protection from driving rain and snow, as well as IK08 impact resistance. The integrated enclosure, measuring 122mm by 82mm, houses temperature, humidity, and pressure sensors. The microprocessor commands a signal, every 15 minutes, that broadcasts through LoRa, a long-distance, low-power radio modulation method, with a different note. Back at the base, about a mile away, the LoRa signal is received, providing 24/7 remote monitoring. If needed, LoRa can transmit up to 10 miles. The unit is also powered by four, 8650 lithium ion batteries.

Like many cold-weather beekeepers, Rae uses a polystyrene-based hive, rather than the traditional wooden design. If the monitor indicates that the temperature is dropping, the vents can be closed and, if necessary, insulation can be added to the hive to maintain heat. Meanwhile, if the humidity rises, the vents can be opened or replaced with other methods that allow for the dissipation of moisture.

“The lids are also quick and easy to install, with a smart, quarter screw that allows for quick access and closure of the cover,” says Rae, who installed a clear lid to enable LED status visibility.

Armed with CAD drawings, downloadable from Spelsberg’s website, Rae designed and installed his own custom bracket to house the device’s sensors, which simply fit inside the enclosure’s internal sockets. While the first prototypes of the nest monitoring device were field-validated, Spelsberg’s in-house CNC customization engineers are available to scale up the product as needed.

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“Existing monitoring devices are available, but they are usually solar-powered,” Rae said. “This would add significant size and cost, compared to the battery option, which runs for nine months before needing to be recharged. Some devices also broadcast via SIM card, but this increases the ongoing costs compared to using LoRa.”

As nest theft is a growing issue, Rae has also installed a GPS transmitter in each device, meaning the location of each nest can be tracked wherever you are.

“The monitoring equipment will help ensure that the hives and their population remain healthy throughout the year. Spelsberg covers provide essential protection for the device to function, regardless of the conditions, without problems.”

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