Beekeepers have been trying to weigh their colonies since the invention of the movable hive, and those who keep records are endlessly fascinated by the fluctuations in hive weight during the year, especially the rapid increases during a nectar flow. Stories abound of hives gaining hundreds of pounds per week in some areas, something we never see from the outside looking in.
From a practical point of view, keeping track of your hive’s weight lets you know when your bees have enough stores for winter, when brood rearing is in full swing, and when a nectar flow has begun. A rapid decrease in weight might alert you that a nectar dearth is underway, a swarm has issued from your colony, or robbers have invaded. A slow decrease may mean your colony has stopped storing honey and begun eating it. Whatever the case, the information gives you a head’s up that something is changing inside your hive.
Until recently, finding a good scale was hit or miss. I’ve seen all kinds of rusted hulks picked up at garage sales or company liquidations that beekeepers have hauled home and used to measure their hives. Some look rickety, like old bathroom scales, and some appear massive enough to weigh your car or even your blue-ribbon sow. Surely, there had to be a better way to weigh.
Luckily, Rich Morris and the BroodMinder team have been working tirelessly to design a simple to use, lightweight, purpose-built hive scale that sends the data wirelessly to your phone. The new scale, called BroodMinder-W, is the first scale I can actually visualize myself using—one that isn’t impossibly ugly and finicky, and doesn’t require chains, hoists, or a fork lift to set up.
The scale itself is only 16.25” x 2.5” x 1.5” and fits under one end of your hive. You prop up the other end on a piece of wood and you’re good to go. The measurement is simply doubled to give you the full weight.
Some very cool features
Ten cool features of the BroodMinder-W:
- 0.01 pound (5 gram) resolution
- Temperature compensated
- Can be paired with a second unit for accurate determination of total hive weight
- Records and stores data once per hour for six months (user configurable)
- Replaceable coin cell battery lasts six months
- Bluetooth Low Energy communication, no wires, no setup dance. It just works!
- 16.25” x 2.5” x 1.5” durable white oak body top and aluminum base
- Weatherproof, UV resistant cover
- Free iPhone or Android app to wirelessly collect data from the scale
- Free cloud storage of collected data
Yes, other hive scales have recently come on the market, but I trust the folks at BroodMinder to build a superior product and, most importantly, to stand behind their products as they have in the past.
Even more compelling, you can choose to store your data for free in the cloud if you agree to allow public access to those data. This simple step means that your hives and your data become part of a much larger movement to collect information and gain insights into how we can best protect the health of honey bees in the future. The more we know, the more we can help. By contributing your data to the pool of information, you will be helping the future of beekeeping and the future of honey bees worldwide. As a contributor of data, all the collected information is available for you to use.
Visit the BroodMinder-W Indiegogo campaign where you can order a scale for $149 plus shipping. Some units are still available for the earliest ship date in June, otherwise you can order for July or later. If you don’t already have the BroodMinder-TH, the in-hive temperature and humidity sensor, you can get a special package price of $199 for both products.
Please note that I get asked to promote products nearly every week, but I seldom do. In fact, I’m still taking heat for not recommending the Flow hive . . . you wouldn’t believe the virulent e-mails I receive! Nevertheless, I endorse BroodMinder because of the company’s sincere desire to help beekeepers, their high-quality products, the depth of their research and development, and their willingness to stand by their products if things go awry. Weigh to go, BroodMinder!
Honey Bee Suite