Using connected hive scales to track honey flow
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
In this tutorial we explain how you can use the weight and moisture curves of your connected hive scales to optimize the honey flow monitoring:
- at the beginning of the honey flow: put the first supers on your hives just at the right time,
- in the middle of the honey flow: put the following supers when needed
- at the end of the honey flow: identify the best time toharvest honey
- check the humidity at the time of harvest
For this explanation, we rely on the recording of a beautiful mountain summer honeyflow and on the recording of the humidity curve in a hive during the honeyflow.
If you want to have this tool at home, you must equip your hives with:
➡ A BEESCALE4 system with 4 scales
➡ A weather sensor
➡ At least one brood sensor present in an active hive
Using weight data for honey flow monitoring
1 - Detecting the beginning of honeyflow and applying the firstrise
When a honeydew begins, you start by seeing the weight variation over the day in positive terms. At the same time you will see that in a few days your curves will show a clear upward trend. If the honeydew is confirmed over the course of the days, you will see the weight variations increase more and more.
If you want the hive bodies to load up with provisions before putting up the supers, you can wait a few days and only decide to put up the supers when the bodies have reached a certain weight.
Beware of the honeydew dynamics which can be very important. For example, in rapeseed or acacia, weight variations of more than 10 kg per day are recorded. In these cases, the installation of the supers should not be delayed, otherwise some honey will be lost and the hive will block the laying of eggs.
Do not zoom in too much on your curves, always keep a scale of at least 3 weeks, for a weight of 0kg to 90Kg. If you zoom in too much you will not see the trend of the honey flow on a scale of a few days.
2 - Installation of the second rise and continuation of the honey flow
Count the weight of your hive and the quantity you can store (for example in Dadant 10C, the wooden hive weighs 6 to 7kg and it can store 15kg of honey on average, that is to say about 20kg). If the honeyflow is not finished and the weight is reached, it is time to put the extra hive. The installation of the second hive " at the right time" requires a little experience which can be acquired in a few years.
3 - end of the honeyflow: honey harvest, lifting of the supers
At the end of the honeyflow, the curve stops progressing and then decreases. The decrease is due to the combination of honey drying and bee consumption. It is easier to harvest well after the end of the honeyflow when the bees have dried the honey well. However, you may need to harvest before the end of the honey flow for various reasons:
- the honey crystallizes (Colza, Melezitoze ...)
- honey has to get into the body as a supply
In these cases of "early" harvest the question of the humidity of the honey arises strongly, all experienced beekeepers have been confronted one day with a too wet honey harvest and know that it ruins in an instant months of efforts. To help you with this problem, you can use the humidity sensors in the hive as below.
Using humidity data
You can use the brood sensors in the hive to know in real time the humidity of the hive and thus indirectly that of the honey. For the moment, there is no study allowing to establish an exact correspondence between the real humidity of the honey and that of the atmosphere of the hive. With experience you will establish your own gauge.
1 - Increase in humidity during honeyflow
In the graph above you can clearly see the internal humidity of the hive increasing throughout the honeyflow and then decreasing after the end of the honeyflow. (From an average of 55% to more than 85%). Before the honeyflow (from the end of May to the beginning of June) the humidity is clearly seen to vary between 50% and 65%. This is the zone of "humidity regulation" by the bees, this phenomenon is called "homeostasis".
1 - Harvesting at 60% moisture and feeding
Harvesting was done when the ambient humidity in the hive had risen to around 60%. At this time there is a significant jump in humidity due to feeding at the same time as the harvest.