What is the best configuration for connecting a hobby apiary? This is one of the first questions our future customers ask. The question is well-founded, because the BroodMinder system is modular and allows for multiple configurations.
Precision beekeeping is a recent practice. The first devices were relatively expensive. Designed for professionals, they allowed live monitoring of honey flows to save them unnecessary travel. Our goal at BroodMinder is to make this technology available to all beekeepers. That's why we offer a hobby range, without subscription, along with the Pro range.
Connected beekeeping for hobby
Putting aside bees health, the hobby beekeeper does not necessarily rank his priorities in the same order as the professional beekeeper. With an average of 5 to 10 hives, hobbyist beekeeper is above all fulfilling a passion. He is curious about the management of the apiary, the observation of nature, a technical and complex practice that depends on many factors, with the final measure being his honey harvest.
Very often, his interest in precision beekeeping is motivated by a desire to better understand. Understanding honey flow, brood development, swarming and other phenomena. With these tools, his learning becomes more methodical and scientific. It leads him to practice beekeeping based on measurements and proven facts.
He (or she!) leverages the connected system as a tool to provide more accurate and continuous information. Thus, combined with regular inspections, the connected systems will provide her with additional knowledge to develop the quality of his practice.
How to get started in recreational precision beekeeping?
As for any kind of practice, precision beekeeping has to be learnt. You will need to practice to understand and make mistakes to improve. This is despite our best efforts to make the system as accessible as possible.
The advantage of the BroodMinder system is its modularity. You can start small and build up as you go along. I promise you that it can go very, very deep! The system configuration options, both for sensors and software ensure a progression in practice. So there's room for beginners and also for experts!
This modularity allows you to progressively equip yourself. All the devices are interoperable and you don't need to acquire them all at once. My advice, is to start out small and verify that the system meets your needs. That way, the initial financial commitment will be moderate and you will have time to explore the features.
A second very important tip, is to connect multiple hives so you can compare them. During your inspections, you always compare the condition of a colony with its neighbors. It's the same thing with in precision beekeeping. With only one equipped hive you will not have a benchmark to discern its evolution.
My first connected apiary
So what are the best setups for connecting your hobby apiary? Here are two that have proven to meet a wide range of needs for beginners.
Apiary 1: Three hives with brood
It is the basic configuration. For a hundred Euros you can follow the development of three hives in parallel. With the queen laying events, brood progression and other events like swarming or over heating.
It is important to measure 3 hives and not just one because with three you always have a much better idea of the general trend. With only one you are always in the uncertainty of whether this effect I see is general or specific.
You will keep these three BroodMinders for years and they will give you the tone of the evolution of the apiary over the weeks. You will also keep track of them for the following years, which in the long run is extremely useful. Especially in a context where the climate changes and the years follow each other but are not alike.
We have packaged this system in the Hobyist Starter Kit
Apiary 2: Three hives with brood + nectar-flow
This is the ideal configuration for starting out. Set up one complete hive with a scale plus a brood probe and two other hives with brood probes only.
As in the previous configuration, you can follow the internal development of the three colonies and compare them to each other, as well as have access to the weight (and especially the variations) of one of them, which will provide useful information on the effects of the environment (nectar-flow, dearth, etc.)
We have packaged this system in the Citizen Science Kit
Advantages and limitations
Those two configurations do not require a subscription and you'll have access to BroodMinder Bees App on your smartphone andMyBroodMinder on your PC.
With these configurations there is no automatic data transmission. You will have to go to the apiary to get the data with your smartphone.
If in the future you wish to have real time readings, there will always be time to upgrade your equipment with one of our different Hubs 4G or WiFi. This is the advantage of modularity. You build your equipment at your own pace.
What if I am part of a Beekeepers Club?
With MyBroodMinder you have several ways to share information with your colleagues.
- Share your apiary with other MyBroodMinder users (by filling in their email)
- Share your hive with a url link that you can post on facebook for example.
- Display your hive continuously on your club's website with an iframe link.
- You can also be multiple users with Bees App on your mobile. What one of you enters is directly accessible by the others.
We continue to add new features to our system on a very regular basis. If you have any questions about your particular use-case, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will find a solution to your need.