Emily Henry looks at how thermal imaging is redefining bee-keeping.
Keeping bees can be tough, much tougher now than it ever used to be. The wonders of modern technology are making it more efficient than ever to ensure your bees are okay and you are getting the best results.
It is also making it easier just to check your bee’s general wellbeing and to ensure they’re okay.
While still being implemented around the world, if thermal imagery is something you are interested in introducing to your bee colonies, but you are not sure what it is or where to start, you have come to the right place.
I am going to explore everything you need to know.
How heat is converted into visual images
Firstly, let us explore how these thermal imagery cameras actually work to understand what benefits they can bring into your practices.
To cut a long story short, a thermal imagery camera takes heat signals and turns these detections into electronic signals that can be recorded and visually displayed on a viewing monitor or television screen.
We have all seen these cameras in action. If you have ever seen a spy movie or a nature documentary, you will have seen the cameras where you can see what you are looking at, with the hottest parts of the images in red, warm areas in yellow, and then the coolest parts in blue.
In some cases, two cameras are used: a traditional camera and a thermal imaging camera.
They take the same image and then overlay the content over the top of each other so you can see exactly where the heat is coming from.
Using heat imagery during the winter
We all know that winter is the hardest time of the year to keep bees. It can be a struggle to understand what is going on inside the hives and colonies without disrupting them and releasing the heat that is keeping them alive.
However, you may get to the spring months and notice that your bee colonies did not make it through the winter season. So, what are you supposed to do?
Well, using your thermal cameras, you can see the locations of your hives where the essential heat is escaping and act accordingly.
By seeing where the holes are and where insulation is needed, you can be proactive in helping your bees to survive and thrive during the winter months.
How to isolate infected bee colonies
Discovering the viability of your bee colonies is one of the most important tasks you will try to complete and how well your colonies will grow.
Using thermal imagery cameras, you will be able to locate clusters of bees inside your hives, no matter where they are, discovering the bees that do not interact with others.
You can then act accordingly to help these bees re-join the rest of the group and become viable.
In some cases, you may find clusters of bees with weaker heat signatures which may indicate their inability to breed.
In addition to bringing your bees back together, you can also use thermal imagery cameras to isolate bees that are diseased and need to be separated.
“For example, in both European and American foulbrood bees, thermal imagery cameras are used to keep bees apart and helps to identify areas of the hive that might have collapsed during winters or have contaminated honey.”
“By locating these areas, you will be able to ensure that your hives stay healthy when you head into the winter months.”
Using thermal imagery cameras means you:
- Can find out information without any need to take off the roof of the hive, disturb your colonies or the clusters;
- Will not get stung, which leads me nicely to my next point.
Thermal imagery does not disrupt bees
Using thermal imagery cameras means you will be able to see everything that is going on within your beehives without taking the roof off the hive and disturbing the bees inside.
By disrupting the bees, you can cause stress to them. This can damage their health and wellbeing, which is especially important to retain during the winter months.
If you open the roof, you can let all the heat out of the hive created by the colony. This can lead to fatal consequences.
With this level of control over your hives, you will be able to lessen the risk of infestations in the spring and summer months, especially since parasites tend to live in their hosts.
If the host bees die during the winter months, the parasites will die with them. This will ensure the continued survival of the rest of your colonies.
Keep records to improve the future
The final point you will need to know when it comes to using thermal imagery cameras with your beehives is tracking and recording the health and viability of your colonies.
You can do this in the form of recording temperature differences and by jotting any visual observations.
Also, you will be able to record where new clusters of bees appear. During the winter months, this is so important. You will see how your hive heaters are working and where they need to be to ensure the maximum chances for survivability.
Also, you will be able to ensure you heat your hives to the right temperature rather than just estimating.
“By keeping notes, you will be able to see how well you can manage the temperature of your hives and what you need to do better.”
“You can see patterns of what you are doing the effects you are causing over longer periods to optimise your bee-keeping process for the best results possible.”
Remember, thermal imagery cameras are cameras. Therefore, you can easily print out photos for future reference to help protect against problems in the future.
For example, if you have an infestation, take a photo. Then use this as your baseline so you can quickly detect this problem emerging again in the future.
About the author
Emily Henry is a professional writer at Ukwritings.com and Do My Paper. She has been involved in many projects to help farmers and beekeepers get the most out of their experiences. Emily also is a teacher at Coursework Help UK.
Further reading on bee-keeping