IR and hive maintenance: what glows?
After my last post, wherein I stated that only men sent me thermal images of their hives, I received the following images, all from women of course. But it turns out that IR (infrared) photography is more than pretty pictures; it can be a real asset for hive maintenance.
Once again, I present the photos in the order they were received, and the tale just gets curiouser and curiouser. Come follow the glow.
The first photo was from Debbe Krape, a beekeeper from Delaware who never fails to send me fascinating links and beekeeping stories. But Debbe’s email reminded me how often the English language trips me up.
In my post I wrote, “not once has a woman ever sent me a thermal image.” But what I meant was, no woman has ever taken a thermal image and sent it to me” so when I read Debbe’s email, I got the giggles. She wrote, “…Just so you have an infrared picture from a woman, although I have to admit it was taken of one of my hives by a male friend of a couple of days ago.”
My first thought was, “Where does this go? With the men or with the women?” Not that it matters, but it was a wake-up moment for me when I realized that what I wrote and what I meant were two different things.
Nevertheless, it’s a great photo. Debbe says, “The picture my friend took is wonderful: I felt like I was looking at the beating heart of an organism. Black plastic on 3 sides of our other hives interfered with the readings…and my husband didn’t want to disassemble more, but I would love confirmation that they’re okay given recent arctic temps.”
The next photo was sent by Jennifer McComb of St Louis, Missouri. She writes, “Here’s a St Louis hive on a cold February day. A hive that’s giving off heat most likely has a living colony; it’s nice to see this at a glance.”
The photo shows a colony of bees that has migrated to the top of the hive after eating its way through the lower food supply. And look at the temperature below the cluster. Cold!
The last two photos, submitted by Judith Stanton of Maine, just bowled me over. Judith writes:
Once we got a really hard freeze going in January I was able to get thermal images of all my hives. One in particular puzzled me; two distinct clusters seemed to be co-existing in one hive. It eventually dawned on me that the smaller heat-generating source near the bottom could be a mouse or shrew.
Not long after we had one of those freakishly warm days, so I sent a few puffs of smoke into the entrance and soon two mice slithered out (while the bees buzzed in and out!). It was warm enough to break down the hive, replace 3 fouled frames, flip the bottom board and secure the entrance, leaving the colony rodent-free. So for me the value of the camera goes beyond ascertaining whether the bees are alive and their exact location.
Here is one of the thermal images showing the mouse presence…I have had both mouse and shrew problems in the past, so wasn’t sure which type of rodent might be the squatter. Also included a shot of the (thankfully limited) damage done by those meeces. The rest of the deep was chock full of honey and pollen, so I replaced the ruined frames and moved the box to the top of the hive.
Is that awesome or what? If that’s not an excuse for thermal imaging, I don’t know what is. That one image may have saved an entire colony. Well done, Judith!
Special thanks to Debbe Krape, Jenny McComb, and Judith Stanton for sharing their photos and stories.
Honey Bee Suite