Some may argue that technology and bees don't mix, what with everything from cell phone towers to man-made pesticides pointed out as possible reasons for colony collapse disorder of these incredibly vital pollinators. However, technology can also be an important way to study these insects to better understand their habits. One electronics tinkerer has come up with a couple cool projects, one of which being a home-made bee counter.
"Where the honeybee's division of labor has stayed on a steady progression for 25 million years... our human superorganism has grown more complex and in all directions... hence the bee counter... " writes Instructables user Hydronics.
The bee counter is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. It counts the number of times bees enter or exit the hive, using an infrared sensor, microcontroller, and software. So far, the creator has the system up to a 95% accuracy rate.
The steps are fairly basic, and the materials added up to roughly $110:
1. Buy a couple of infrared (IR) sensors
- Sparkfun: http://www.sparkfun.com/products/9542
- Get some 30K 50K and 100K resistors for testing the digital input sensitivity..
- Get some 10 , 20, and 50 ohm resistors for powering the IR LED
2. Prototype your parts with an Arduino
- I used a dead bee on a wire
- its an easy circuit
3. Select a Microcontroller... I used the Teensy ++
- same user interface as Arduino..
- has 46 inputs/outputs,
- its cheap, and
- designed locally here in Portland..
4. Design your Printed Circuit Board with EAGLE for free
- i took a 4 hour class at dorkbotpdx.org here in Portland. the software is free.
- have it printed through dorkbot in Portland $45 for 3 boards
5. put everything together
- solder your components on the board
- calibrate your sensors
- fine tune your programming
Detailed instructions are found on the Instructable.
Would you be interested in counting the bee activity at your hive? What do you think about this project?