Smart Beehive?

Ok slightly strange one! Mother in law has a bee hive and has been interested in some smart hives. Thing is these hives are very expensive and I think it could be done much cheaper /better with smartthings.

I think their Hive is in range of wifi (or a smartthings hub). I was thinking about a xiaomi humidity and temperature sensor (key bits of the “smart” hives). But I was wondering if anyone had anyone had any experience or ideas with bees, smart hives and possible sensor? Thanks!

Sounds like an interesting project! :sunglasses: First, what country are you in? The device selection does vary.

The main issue with zigbee Sensors, which are commonly used in agriculture, is there relatively short range. About 40 feet for each hop. However, you could have up to 15 hops into the hub and another 15 out, so that helps. Also zigbee is somewhat better than Z wave for transmitting through high humidity, including rain. So that’s good news. :sunglasses:

All of that said, a hop is the distance to the next repeating device, which Has to be Mains powered. So are there places to put in either smart lightbulbs or plug-in devices to handle extending the range?

There are some Z wave options as well, and the newest ones will have a longer range for a single hop, maybe as much as 250 feet reliably outdoors clear line of sight on a clear day. But again rain can reduce that. Or even just high humidity. So It all comes down to small details.

Third, what temperature ranges are we talking about? There’s a big difference between planning for, say, the San Francisco Bay area and planning for Minnesota. :thinking: :snowman_with_snow:

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Oh, and before going any further, it’s really important to understand that smartthings is not a particularly reliable platform. Historically there has been some kind of flakiness at least once a month, sometimes more. It can require some hands-on tinkering and you absolutely should not set up anything where the system failing to report an issue might result in a health hazard to the bees or to people. The company Says so themselves, it’s just that most people don’t read the fine print.

So it’s fine if you want to go into this based on smartThings as a convenience, with the understanding that there may be glitches.

There are other systems based on other platforms that provide a longer MFOP (maintenance free operating period), even some made specifically for beehives, but they will likely cost more, may be significantly more. So just something to be aware of.

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Talked to a couple of engineering friends who follow the sector pretty closely and they suggested looking at OSbeehives (OS stands for open source) which has their own Wi-Fi sensor box designed for beehives and includes an audio sensor as well as temperature and humidity. Offers a price of $159 regular for the newest generation, sometimes on sale for about 20 bucks less. They’re also getting rid of the stock of some of the previous generation, but I don’t know the details of what the differences are.

Their Facebook page

Video from manufacturer:

They have a US office and a European office and ship to a lot of countries.

Negative reviews seem to mostly be from people who have metal beehives and can’t get Wi-Fi signal to the sensors inside the hive. They should probably highlight that in the product descriptions to avoid disappointment.

All in all, this looks to me like the best place to start. It doesn’t give you voice control or smartthings integration, but it looks like the right kind of niche product.

There are some similar products for commercial farms but they all cost a lot more.

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Thanks for your reply, I thought it might be fun to give it a go. Luckily they have a garage with a good wifi connection (mesh node is in the garage) that I think is close enough to the bee hive, but you’re right, rain/humidity (snow even!) Is likely to affect connection and it’s so hard to tell without trying how reliable it is.

My back up option is they have a greenhouse (that has power) next to the beehive so could plug in a repeater or even the hub itself in there. Would wifi range or zigbee be stronger/more reliable at a borderline distance?

I’m in the UK so weather can be a bit variable here. That said we are in the south so imagine a couple of days a year with snow, a week or two with frost but the rest of the time is above freezing to mid twenties (sometimes 30 celcius). The bees are well insulated (foam padding) so we are hoping to keep an eye on them with a sensor in the hive- they typically keep fairly warm even in colder months

I also visit fairly frequently so can always check in and make sure things are still connected and working as needed. I highly doubt any results (e.g temperature) are going to actually change our behaviour other than minor things such as a bit more insulation, but we like to know more about the bees and how they’re getting on (especially in colder periods)

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Oh this looks really interesting and open source. Thanks so much!

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