4 Jan 2012

Weighing hives

As natural beekeepers, we seek alternatives to opening up hives and disturbing the bees frequently. With this in mind, how are we able to monitor their progress inside their dark box?

One way to gather data is to regularly weigh the hive. This is commonly referred to in the Warre world as as 'hefting'. Two pieces of information are very useful:
  1. What is the total weight of the hive? If you subtract from that the weight of wood, the rest is bees, comb, and stores. You can make reasonable estimates about the weight of the bees and comb and so can conclude how much they have in the way of nectar/honey. This is critical as you approach winter. Do they have enough honey stored to survive until spring?
  2. What is the change since they were last weighed? This tells you the direction they are going. A growing hive taking on stores will increase weight. Fast increases mean a honey flow and you may need more boxes to make space.
Andrew pioneered a high tech approach and appeared on ABC's New Inventors.

I'm trying a different approach using a scale I found here. It's 95% built - just waiting for Bunnings to restock (after the Xmas rundown) on cable crimps before I can complete it and try it out.

Hive Scale Built by Mr. A Little
 I'll post here to let you know how it goes.

  • The build design specifies 2.5cm ply - which I though looked a bit overkill and was anyway hard to find (in my usual hardware warehouse . . ), or to use thinner hardwood (not easy to find in the required width, except as long and expensive lengths).
  • I used the above pic as a guide to the thinkness of the (good quality) ply I used and it does not work. After reaching around 11kg, the fork starts to bend and it stops weighing.
  • Will have to rebuild from stronger materials and try again, when I get some time. :-)
Update May 2012 - still not rebuilt . . .

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