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BroodMinder Discussion Page

This page is for those of you who purchased a BroodMinder and would like to post comments, questions, observations, or stories about your device to share with readers of Honey Bee Suite. From what I’ve heard, the shipments should begin the first week in December.

As I don’t have forum software on my site, simply leave a comment in the box below and I will post it. If you want to share data in the form of spreadsheets, charts, diagrams, or photos, please send it by e-mail to me at this address: rusty[at]honeybeesuite[dot]com. From there, I can post it to this page. Thanks!

Comments

dgrc
Reply

Mine arrived yesterday and I installed it this afternoon. Everything worked as well and as simply as advertised and I got my first data — 69°F 56% relative humidity which seems about right.

Just for fun, I’ve cobbled together my own, far less elegant monitor (see crowswood.com/bees). I put it in the hive at the same time and got very different readings from BroodMinder. My guess is either mine is completely FUBAR or it’s functional but slow to equilibrate.

But enough about me. The BroodMinder is way cool and I’m looking forward to both getting and sharing my data.

Well done, BroodMinder!

dgrc
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Update, after an hour in the hive, the BroodMinder readings matched my gizmo pretty well.

I powered up the BroodMinder in the house, then took it outside. My guess is that the first reading wasn’t actually from inside the hive.

Eager to hear other’s experience and watch the data flow in.

Pat
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I received my 5 pack (ordered way back in October), but my partner has not received his yet (ordered end of November). We have one in each of our three hives, and they seem to be reading okay, plus or minus a degree or so. Two show 100% humidity though. We can get a reading from about 30 feet away. We also have one next to our little temp/humidity meter in the garage, and they pretty much agree.

DaveS
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Mine is working too, but it’s not in the hive yet, so just measuring house stats. It’s +2F of the house temp and +7% of house humidity, but I’m not sure my house thermostat (digital) is accurate. I need to do more testing.

BTW, love your Arduino setup. I built a similar one using a Photon so it can relay the data back to the house via WiFi. With a Photon you can ditch the computer, and the wiring will be 90% the same.

Don Rideaux-Crenshaw
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Thanks, the Arduino is a fun toy. I’m already thinking about wi-fi-ing the data back to the house. I was thinking in terms of the esp8266 but will check out the Photon. Any solution within my limited skills likely to be power-hungry but heck, that will be an excuse to learn how to rig up a solar power system.

DaveS
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Don Rideaux-Crenshaw,

The Photon has the ability, as many boards do, to go the sleep. My code wakes up the board every 10 min, takes a reading, uploads it to the cloud, and then sleeps for another 10. If the battery is running low, it sleeps for longer periods.

dgrc
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The Amtel processor in the Arduino has several sleep modes, most of which seem not to save much power. I have a couple ESP8266s in hand right now and will play with them first. Hearing good rumors about the ESP32 out soon. So many boards, so little time.

Bryan
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I got mine today. It took about an hour for Rich to email me back an invite to beta test the app. I’ll probably put them in the hives tomorrow.

DaveS
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Temperature has stabilized after about an hour, and is reading exactly what my other instruments are saying.

Mark Martin
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I received mine yesterday. I was very impressed by the packaging. Nicely done graphics and a well done “quick start” guide. On top of that, a nice thank you signature from Rich!

The devices themselves looked great. The battery tab was clearly labeled and upon removal I could see the flash of a yellow LED to tell me it had power.

I had already signed up for the iTunes beta so the app was already installed. I fired it up and within a few seconds the devices were reporting!

I tested the Email Data Log feature and I have a nice .csv file in my email box that I could easily make a graph or chart with.

I’m very impressed with everything so far and I plan on placing them in my hives this weekend.

I posted a bit more about my BroodMinders on my blog if you care to read:
http://beeginnings.blogspot.com/2015/12/2015-12-08-broodminder-has-arrived.html

Don Rideaux-Crenshaw
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I’ve been putting my Broodminder through its paces for a few days now. So far, everything is looking good. I had a minor problem with the Android app but, after a little good conversation with Broodminder, I isolated the problem to my end. The app is a little rough around the edges but functional.

My only concern is that I’m not trusting the humidity data. It’s uniformly reporting 100% relative humidity. My home-brew monitor is uniformly showing ~86% RH. You can see more details here: http://www.crowswood.com/bees/?p=33

I’m interested to learn others’ initial impressions. Mine, overall are quite positive and Broodminder is about where I’d expect it to be for an initial release.

Ken M
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Got mine in the mail earlier this week and downloaded the app this morning. Today was the first day that weather conditions made a foray into my Warré hive practical, so I installed it early this afternoon. Right now, with ambient temperature at 53℉ and RH at 75%, I’m getting a reading of 59℉ in the hive with 93% RH. Not sure if I should be concerned about the humidity, but we’re coming out of record breaking rain the last couple of days here in Portland, OR, so it might not be too bad. Anyone know what humidity norms are?

DaveS
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Ken M,

Yes, 100% inside the hive is a death trap for sure. To make sure the Broodminder is getting good readings, I’d take it inside for an hour and see if you’re still seeing that high of a humidity reading. If the readings are close to your thermostat, you know it’s OK.

While there are no norms for humidity in a hive should be. I’ve found a hive I’m monitoring will keep the humidity in the 70s percent range for the last few months. It’s 300 feet from the ocean, and the outside humidity is often much higher, and certainly goes to 100% when it rains (go figure).

dgrc
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Mine has consistently read 100% RH for days. I asked Broodminder about this. We agreed that condensation in the packaging is the most likely source of the problem. Broodminder generously offered to swap a new one for mine. Before I take them up on the offer, I’m going to bring the Broodminder into the house and stick it in a bowl of (uncooked) rice. We’ll see if that sucks any moisture out and gets it back on track.

Rusty
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The first thing I thought of was condensation in the packaging. Still, it isn’t hard to hit 100% RH in an area with cold winters. Most winter hives around here have dripping wet inner covers, which is why I’ve gone to the moisture quilts. If you don’t use quilts but tip the cover and let the water run down the inside walls, the humidity will remain really high.

My BroodMinder will go top of the frames but under the quilt where, I suspect, it will still be quite humid. It would be interesting to measure both above and below the quilt.

DaveS
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Rusty,

With your post(s) on quilts, and at a friend’s urging, I tried one last weekend and am still pondering the amazing results. Temperature is up, and humidity is down, and mostly importantly, they both are stable. Just like in your house, as the outside readings fluctuate, the inside of the hive is stable.

I’m planning on building more quilts next week, and am excited to see the results.

Rusty
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Dave,

Once I began using quilts, I never looked back. They stop water from ever dripping down on the bees and, as you say, they stabilize the hive environment.

Ken M
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I’m getting suspicious of the humidity reading. It remains in the high 90s to 100%, and does not fluctuate normally relative to the temperature (ie. it can go up or down as the temp goes up). This hive has two quilts, both of which remain dry, and the top-cloth was also pretty dry when I pulled it up to install the unit. In the past there has been condensation on the plexiglass windows when the humidity was high, but I don’t see any now and the comb and bees appear to be dry.

I’m gonna watch it for a couple more days to see if it changes. If not, I’ll follow Dave S’s suggestion to bring it in the house and see if how its reading compare to my Davis weather station.

DaveS
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Excellent idea on the Davis readings. Mine has an indoor temp & humidity as well, and I’d trust those readings more than I would my house thermostats, or the DTH22 sensor I rigged up.

Janice M
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We received our Brood Minders on Monday and were finally able to install this morning. We live in Colo Springs, a very dry climate. RH is 19% currently. Checked our three hives and they are: H1- 62F, 38% RH; H2 – 64F, 71% RH and H3 – 56F, 66% RH. H1 is a package installed in spring and has struggled all year. My husband and I love the information, now trying to figure out what to do with it :). We are new to beekeeping and had no idea how complex things can be but we absolutely love it.

Rusty
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Janice,

Interesting info. I would expect a higher humidity with more bees, but I would also expect a higher temperature. I’m sure we are going to learn things from all these readings. Thanks so much!

Ivan Van Laningham
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Got my 5 a few days ago, and installed the three I’m going to keep (other two are for a friend) today. Took about fifteen minutes to install–seven minutes each for two hives, one minute for the third, empty hive (it’s my control hive;-) ). Buttoned up the hives, started the app on my phone, and bang! all three hives reported instantly. No fiddling with settings, no pair with, no sweat at all. I’m impressed.

My hives are close enough to my kitchen window that I can get readings without leaving the house. I’m in Salt Lake City, and did readings this evening about 7PM. Empty hive, 37F, 66%; weak hive, 40F, 71%; strong hive, 60F, 58%.

Both occupied hives have honey supers (shallows, I can’t lift anything heavier), and appeared to have roughly the same number of bees in those supers, but the weak hive seemed more sluggish than the strong one. Looks like insulation is needed.

I didn’t get any stings so I can’t judge the strength of winte venom. 😉

Ken M
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Well, I moved the BroodMinder into the house yesterday. After 24 hours it reads 8% higher than my Davis weather station, but it’s continuing to drop, so it appears that its reporting isn’t so far off. I’m going to put a small freestanding hygrometer in the hive today to see what it reports.

DaveS
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I only have one unit, but I’ve seen similar readings. The temp read correctly in a new environment, but the humidity take a it longer – a few hours. I suspect this is a small problem, and the speed be adjusted with software. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

PaulG
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We (I’m Pat’s partner) have 16 BR42s. Four are in hives and six are powered up in our unheated garage. Two of the hive units have always reported 100% RH and the third reports 98-99%. Four of the garage units report consistent high values and two of them report less consistent but higher values. They’re all wrong but if they’re consistent they can corrected. I’m starting to think most of them are being reported 20% high. If the raw sensor data is being converted in the app then this can easily be fixed and Rich’s comments give me some hope.

We have a variety of hygrometers and most of my comparisons are using a Kestrel D2 (which if they weren’t 4x the cost and vulnerable to propolis I’d use in hives) or a Kestrel 5000.

Rusty
Reply

Paul,

I’ve been in contact with Rich at BroodMinder, and he is actively working with Texas Instruments to correct the high humidity readings. Thanks for your data and comments.

Rusty
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I’m finally ready to install my BroodMinder. I had to buy a new smart phone first because mine was a fossil relic of the old days. Very excited to get some readings.

Ken M
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My Broodminder’s HR reading never did drop below 9 degrees higher than my Davis Vantage. I did the salt test on it (sealed in a plastic bag with saturated salt in a bowl), which is supposed to result in a steady 75% RH, and found that the reading was consistently 84%, or 9 degrees high. This is at 71 ℉ so at lower temperatures it may not be entirely accurate, but at least I can assume that if the reading inside the hive is 96% I’m probably looking at something in the neighborhood of 87% actual RH. That’ll do until Rich gets the problem sorted out.

Ken M
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This afternoon I took advantage of the comparatively warm weather to check to status of my backyard bees’ food supply. I opened the Warré hive and lifted the block of sugar that sits above the cluster. No evidence that the sugar has been used yet, and some capped honey cells immediately below, but the interesting part is that the hive temperature did not drop after I opened it. In fact, it continued with the slow rise that had been progressing all morning. The quilt was off the hive for maybe two minutes total, and the sugar block was lifted, exposing the cluster, for maybe 30 seconds max. I expected a temperature drop, but maybe a quick opening of the hive is not as detrimental as we’ve believed.

DaveS
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My guess is that’s because the Broodminder only samples data (temperature & humidity) once an hour. So, it’s certainly possible that the temperature had returned it’s previous reading by the time it was sampled again. Broodminder only samples once an hour to conserve batteries. If it sampled once a minute, for instance, you’d have to replace the battery about 60x as often.

Ken M
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No, I should have mentioned that, knowing that the Broodmaster samples once an hour, I monitored the temperature at hourly intervals. As I said above, it continued to rise all afternoon.

PaulG
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Between the sample interval and the response time of the sensorsI would be surprised to see any change from a brief exposure.

DaveS
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Hmmm, not sure what kind of temperature of rise you’re seeing, but I normally see my bees thermoregulate to > 10F above the outside temperature when it gets cold in Massachusetts. Example: Outside is 33F, and inside the hive (on the top super, top of it’s frames) is 46F.

How many degrees did the inside of your hives climb, over what period, and what was the outside temperature?

Ken M
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My hive responds to ambient temperature exactly the way yours does; internal temperature remains 9-10 degrees above outside temperature. I didn’t record the temperature outside, but over the course of the day it went from low to high thirties.

My point was this: I opened the hive, removed the thermal protection of the quilt, and briefly exposed the cluster. The Broodminder afforded me an opportunity to monitor the temperature drop caused by my intrusion, and to my surprise there was no drop recorded. Due to the one hour intervals between sampling, I can’t say that there was no temperature drop, but over the course of the day, the hive responded to the ambient temperature as if there was no intrusion. As I, and most bee keepers I know, are extremely reluctant to open a hive during cold weather, I thought that this would be of interest to the group.

DaveS
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Agreed. The fact that you didn’t see a drop says that the bees recovered from the heat loss quickly (well within the hour). I have a BM working as well, but I also have my own home-brew system that samples data every 10 minutes. With that hive, removing the quilt so that I can add more sugar exposes the hive to outdoor temperatures for 45-90 seconds, and my data slows only a slight drop in heat if anything.

This sounds to me that opening/closing a quickly might not be as bad as beekeeping dogma says it is. Of course we’re only looking at temperature recovery here. The momentary drop in temperature might be harmful to the bees even if the temperature recovers quickly.

Ken M
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Exactly, Paul. I was afraid that opening the hive would cause a chimney effect, where the warmer air would rush out and be replaced by colder outside air, leading to a sharp drop in hive temperature that the bees would struggle to bring back up for the rest of the day. Whatever temperature drop occurred, the bees easily handled it, recovering and increasing the temperature within an hour. I’m sure the results would have been quite different had I kept the cluster exposed for any length of time, but for the purpose of checking on food supply, it looks like I’m pretty safe with the short exposure.

PaulG
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I’m not sure about dogma but as I read the experiments 1) healthy cluster temperature is constant and indepentdent of external temperature when it’s below approx. 40 degrees F. 2) The cluster is sufficiently insulated that “domicile” temperature is changed only when the cluster is loose or moves. So no chimney effect.

A healthy cluster can survive for a surprising amout of time when the external (refrigerated ) temp. is -50 degrees F.

I suspect that when people talk about not opening hives in cold weather they mean don’t break the cluster by removing the upper hive body in a two-box hive, which would release a lot of heat and chill brood — not that you shouldn’t peek in the top. Of course an observation inner-cover helps with peeking.

PaulG
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In case you didn’t sign up for the Broodminder newsletter TI has recalled the humidity sensor in the 42 and Broodminder will be designing a new board around a new part to replace all current units. The replacement is intended to be free. In the interim ignore the humidty value if you weren’t already.

dgrc
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The good folks at BroodMinder are being remarkably good about this.I hope TI is commending them so they don’t take a complete bath on that first production run. I’m looking forward to a BroodMinder that works and I’m intrigued about the hive scale they suggest they’ll bring to market for $99.

DaleM
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Rich installed Broodminders on all my hives to get more data on them. So I have them on all 21 hives. The temps appear to be good, but Rich admits the humidity readings are of by as much as 25 degrees F. Also three of the transmitters have failed. TI will fix everything eventually. The hard part is keeping the cluster uniformly close to the Broodminder and in the cold the readings vary a lot from one hive to the next.

JohnS
Reply

My buddy and I ran into the Broodminder folks at EAS while they were setting up and had a great discussion with them. This is exactly what we have been looking for to monitor our apiaries and we each came home with one. Set up was easy, the data stabilized quickly and is going to be great to monitor overwintering conditions and honey flows. I will be buying more this month to add to an out yard. Looking forward to the interface to becoming more robust and automatic.

Steve Smith
Reply

Got a broodminder temp and humidity monitor. The signal is very weak which, I suppose, is ok for the bees but useless as a remote monitor. The hive is about 30 feet away in clear view of the house and it will not access the data. It takes ages to connect and then sits there saying its connected and downloading the data. It was even slow during testing on a desk right next to my cell phone. Waste of $60. Do not buy.

Steve Smith
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An update: I contacted Broodminder and they sent me a replacement unit with free return shipping. On comparison with the replacement, the original unit I had was faulty in that it had no range (worked within a range 1-2 feet and very slowly). The replacement unit can be interrogated from over 30 feet away. So I rescind my previous email above.

I realize now that these units have limitations. One can’t just dial up remotely and check via your cell phone. I thought you could. But, that said, being able to know the temperature and humidity of your hive via your phone from outside it and without having to open it up each time is a very useful thing. Thank you to Broodminder for their patience and help. IMHO, for what its worth, the Broodminder is a useful addition to your hive.

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