Your Source For Beekeeping News, Information and Entertainment
Jan. 10, 2022

2022 Broodminder Update with Rich Morris (S4, E30)

2022 Broodminder Update with Rich Morris (S4, E30)

This week we’ve invited Rich Morris, of Broodminder, to provide updates on what’s new and what’s improved with his Broodminder Hive Monitoring sensor collection. Broodminder has been in the hive monitoring business for many years and Rich states...


Rich MorrisThis week we’ve invited Rich Morris, of Broodminder, to provide updates on what’s new and what’s improved with his Broodminder Hive Monitoring sensor collection.

Broodminder has been in the hive monitoring business for many years and Rich states they are starting to design and release their second and third generations of products. For starters, Broodminder has completely reworked their mobile app so it is faster, shows more information and is easier to use.

This past year, they introduced a “SubHub”, an information collector for up to 50 hive sensors in a beeyard.  The beekeeper can then make one quick stop at a yard and download the data to their cellphone or iPad/tablet to the Internet.

They’ve also reworked the scales this year so now you can use the original simple front-end scale, or use a scale that weighs the whole hive. A scale can come assembled, or unassembled for you to do yourself. You’ll save money with this new scale.

The BeeCounted web page is becoming very useful for Broodminder users, and beekeepers anywhere. A map shows where Broodminder users are by zip code, and you can look at the data from any of these users, yourself included, and see if your hives are similar, or different than nearby hives, which may give you a heads up on trouble.

That’s just a start of the products designed and built for beekeepers by beekeepers. They also have a variety of cellular and WiFi enabled collectors that keep your hives connected so you can monitor them from wherever you are at any given moment

If distant hive monitoring, or even backyard hive monitoring is important, or you’re just curious as to what’s going on inside, you will be interested in what this episode!

Listen and subscribe/follow today!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:

Honey Bee Obscura

______________

We welcome Betterbee as sponsor of today's episode. BetterBee’s mission is to support every beekeeper with excellent customer BetterBeeservice, continued education and quality equipment. From their colorful and informative catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast series, BetterBee truly is Beekeepers Serving Beekeepers. See for yourself at www.betterbee.com

Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of Beekeeping TodayStrong Microbials Podcast. Find out more about heir line of probiotics in our Season 3, Episode 12 episode and from their website: https://www.strongmicrobials.com

This episode is brought to you by Global Patties! Global Patties is a family business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honey bees. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will help Global Pattiesensure that they produce strong and health colonies by increasing brood production and overall honey flow. Global offers a variety of standard patties, as well as custom patties to meet your specific needs. Visit them today at http://globalpatties.com and let them know you appreciate them sponsoring this episode! 

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine destined for2 Million Blossoms your coffee table. Each page of the magazine is dedicated to the stories and photos of all pollinators and written by leading researchers, photographers and our very own, Kim Flottum.

_______________

We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments: questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com

Thanks to Bee Culture, the Magazine of American Beekeeping, for their support of The Beekeeping Today Podcast. Available in print and digital at www.beeculture.com

Bee Culture Magazine

Thank you for listening! 

Podcast music: Young Presidents, "Be Strong"; Musicalman, "Epilogue". Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

Beekeeping Today Podcast is an audio production of Growing Planet Media, LLC

Growing Planet Media, LLC

Transcript

S4, E30 – 2022 Broodminder Update with Rich Morris

[Music]

 

 

Jeff Ott: Welcome to Beekeeping Today Podcast presented by Bee Culture. Beekeeping Today Podcast is your source for beekeeping news information and entertainment. I'm Jeff Ott.

Kim Flottum: I'm Kim Flottum.

Sponsor: Hey, Jeff, and Kim, today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family operated business that manufactures protein supplements patties for honey bees. It's a good time to think about honey bee nutrition. Feeding your hives protein supplement patties will ensure that they produce strong and healthy colonies, by increasing brood production and overall honey flow.

Now is a great time to consider what type of patty is right for your area and your honey bees. Global offers a variety of standard patties as well as custom patties to meet your needs. No matter where you are, Global is ready to serve you out of their manufacturing plants in Airdrie, Alberta and Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.

Jeff: Thank you, Sherry, and thank you, Global Patties. Hey, everybody, you know each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsors support, and you know we'd rather get right to talk about Beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen from the transcripts, to hosting fees, to software, to hardware, to microphones or recorders. Our sponsors enable each episode. With that thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship with this podcast.

Bee Culture has been the magazine for American Beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today. We also want to thank 2 Million Blossoms, they sponsor the episode also available from the 2millionblossoms.com or from wherever you download and stream your shows. Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. We're really happy you're here. Hey, Kim, we're chugging away into 2022, have to gotten out to see your bees yet this year?

Kim: It's 19 degrees out there today, Jeff. I'm going to wait a little bit. I was out earlier in December when it was in the 60s.

Jeff: It was 60 last week, wasn't it? [laughs]

Kim: Yes, but today winter decided to come and stay, and we don't have any snow, but we got the cold, so I'm just going to look at him from here.

Jeff: If you had a sensor like our guest who's coming up from BroodMinder, Rich Morris, if you had one of his sensors in your hand, you'd be able to tell how well your hives are doing.

Kim: I know, you got one, and after this week I just think I'm going to have to look into getting something like that.

Jeff: [laughs] Yes, you bet. You've been doing a lot of reading over the holiday break.

Kim: Yes I have, and Jeff, I got to tell you, I got a book here that starting right about now, beginners classes are coming up. If you are a beginner beekeeper or you've been at it for a while or if you're teaching beginners class, I think I found a book that can really help, and it's called The Illustrated Glossary of Honey Bee and Beekeeping Terminology. It's by a lady named Sue Remenyi, and she's from the UK. Some of this book is slighted towards UK terminology, but boy are hardly any and you won't even notice, because she did such a good job of bringing it all together. You can get it anywhere, Amazon, or right from the publisher. It costs $20. Again, The Illustrated Glossary of Honey Bee and Beekeeping Terminology, that's how you're going to find it on Amazon. I got a review written here for you, Jeff, and I'll just go ahead and get started.

Jeff: Yes, let's do it.

Kim: It's about time somebody produced this book. Although the author is from the UK and some of the terms here will definitely be of UK origin plus all the terms used in most of the rest of the world are here also, so you're not going to get buried in crown boards. You might not find it inner cover, but you're going to find almost everything else. There are very few exceptions where only the UK term is used, for instance, I mentioned inner cover and crown boards. Boy, I can count on one hand on how many times you're going to run in to that problem. It's really an impressive piece of work.

There is eight chapters covering anatomy, biology, development, pest and diseases, casts, species, the actual practice of beekeeping, both activity, and equipment. Flowers and pollen, honey and wax, and common, and not so common abbreviation you'll encounter in your persuit of honey bee knowledge. Many photos are included to further explain the term and often are referenced to another term included in the book or shown to further explain the subject at hand. Of course, all topics are listed alphabetically, so they're easy to find and all photos or drawings are referenced by both chapter and figure within the chapter. I was told there's more than 800 terms, Jeff? Did you know they're even that many terms in beekeeping?

Jeff: [laughs] I don't even know if I have that big of a vocabulary.

Kim: I was told there's more than 800 terms and definitions that are brief, but they provide enough info to answer any question I can come up with. A glossary is also provided within each section and a reading list for each section is provided so if needed. You have more to explore. At the end, there is an alphabetical index with page numbers to use to quickly find what's needed. This book is perfect for a beginner, a teacher, or someone looking to better explain the technical management tool. In fact, if I were teaching a beginners classes this spring, I'd strongly recommend it to all my students. It's a good book and Jeff, I think you should go out and get one.

Jeff: I think, my bee library has expanded a whole another row in the last three years. I wonder if there's a row.

Kim: Row? I got shelves, Jeff.

Jeff: Well, you've got a few years on me.

[laughter]

Kim: This is a good one, and you can get it at Amazon or at probably any place that sells beekeeping books, The Illustrated Glossary of Honey Bee and Beekeeping Terminology. Go out and get one today.

Jeff: Thanks a lot, Kim. Coming up, we have the return of Rich Morris of BroodMinder, the Head Drone of BroodMinder, and he's going to talk to us about his latest updates there in Wisconsin.

Kim: What's new? He's got some good new stuff since we talked to him last, and I can see where people are going to start using this as a tool for other beekeeping subjects other than just what's going on in your backyard.

Jeff: That's going to be good, but first let's hear a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.

Sponsor: Hello Beekeepers, your honeybees face a lot of challenges out there and balanced food sources for monocultural crops, holding yards, drought, food shortages, antibiotics, pesticides and pathogens like chalkbrood. To overcome these challenges, your bees need the multiple bacteria that are in all nectors, pollens, and the environment. These bacteria aid honeybees' digestion, and improve your honeybees' response and resilience to pesticides.

Now, you can help improve your honey colony health with a quick, easy, and safe-to-use product. Strong Microbials, SuperDFM honey bee uses naturally occurring bacteria to restore the healthy gut biome of your honeybees. Check them out today at www.strongmicrobials.com.

[music]

Jeff: Hey, while you're at the Strong Microbials site, make sure you click on subscribe to The Hive. The regular newsletter full of product information and interesting bee facts. Hey everybody, welcome back, sitting across a virtual Zoom table right now is Rich Morris, Head Drone of BroodMinder. Hey, Rich, welcome back to the show. Great to have you here.

Rich: Well, I'm delighted to be back. Good to see you guys.

Jeff: Yes, it's good to see you again, Rich. How is life in Wisconsin?

Rich: Life has turned cold, finally and bees were out flying not that long ago, but now I think they've huddled up and we're just waiting for spring to come.

Jeff: Oh, good. For the folks who aren't familiar with you and BroodMinder, can you just give us a little background on BroodMinder and yourself and then BroodMinder.

Rich: Okay. Well, I've been keeping busy about 15 years and had an opportunity around 6 years ago to reinvent myself yet again and decided that hey, I'm a beekeeper and I'm an electrical product designer and so why don't we combine those. Originally, the thought was just to know exactly when my bees die during the weather because it seems like seven out of eight years they did. So, if I got that one data point that would be enough. Starting from there and meeting people across the internet and everything, we got BroodMinder going.

Kim: Well, Rich, one of the things that it's been last since we've talked to you and I know that BroodMinder has moved forward since we talked to you last. Can you update us on what you've brought in the last year and where you were and where you are now and I guess, where you're headed?

[laughter]

Rich: Okay. Well, we've been busy doing a lot of generation two products really and by that I mean we started and we got to get temperature, temperature and humidity sensors that go inside the hive. We got a couple of different scales that go under the hives to weigh them. Then we have all this network, which connects back to the internet to bring this data forward. One of the things we learned over the years was our first ideas, like any good engineer or designer, you say, "Oh, if I could do that again." Now after these six years, we've really gone to generation two or in some cases three on all these products with regards to our scales and the connectivity, the pain points that people have told us over the years, like collecting data can be tedious if you have 20 of these things.

We invented this thing we call a SubHub that makes that process much easier. We've redone our wifi and cellular products that bring it back to mybroodminder.com because things like inner ICs become unavailable and we have to redesign it for 4G instead of 3G and those sorts of things. We've been busy doing some of that things, but also the more exciting part are now that we're getting this data in, because we've shipped about 22,000 sensors globally. We're getting this data in, we're moving onto the data analysis part of it, and really beginning to understand the signatures of these behaviors that we see the bees make

Jeff: I think the sensors are really cool. Let's go back and talk about those real quick, just to kind of complete the picture there. Because the sensors you mentioned the temperature and the hive, the humidity, and the scales. Those are individual sensors that a beekeeper can either use their phone, Android or iPhone, or whatever to collect the information or you have different devices now that can collect that information and automatically populate it to the internet. Correct?

Rich: Yes. What we found out was not a surprise, but apiaries are everywhere and everybody has a little different setup and some have it in their backyard where they've got WiFi. Some have it out in the middle of Nebraska where there's no cellular connections and all these different things. One of our big goals has always been to make these as easy to use as possible. I'd like to say that my mother can use these things. As a result, we've spent a lot of time and effort on, like you said, we have an iPhone and Android app. We have cellular connections that bring this data live back to the internet. We have all these different methods to get the data, but the real question is what's the data?

That data that we're talking about is internal high temperature. With that, we see that once you've kept these a little while you know that they thermal regulate. That's a really big and super cool thing that they do as a superorganism when they're raising brood, they hold the temperature to right around 95 degrees Fahrenheit. They only do that when they have brood. So if they don't have brood, we see the temperature inside bouncing up and down.

If they do have brood, then we see this rock-solid 95 degrees. That's where we started. Then along the way, we find out that, okay, when they swarm there's this four-degree bump that has a very particular shape to it and so we can also watch for that. Our sensors are watching for those temperature bumps every once in a while. Then it generates this signal that we send out and it ends up coming to your cellphone so it can say, "Hey, you might want to go out to your apiary and collect the bees." That's been pretty exciting because it's really working remarkably well and we're now going through that data.

Jeff: I can attest for that alert and the email and the notification that darn it, they've swarmed again. It's surprisingly effective.

Rich: Well, and what we've found is that they swarm a lot more than I thought. Maybe Kim knows this because he's the beekeeper forever. It seems like every hive and whether they're successful swarms or not too, they have a lot of failed swarms, where they'll disappear and then find out they don't have the queen, or we don't know what's going on yet, but we can see these events happen. That's really been fascinating.

Kim: Rich, I just want to take a half step back and let you describe the sensors that you're talking about and how many of them you have in a hive.

Rich: Okay. Yes. I get ahead of myself. We have temperature sensors and we have that are temperature and humidity. We have both just because we can make the temperature only sensor's cheaper, and they're about a quarter-inch thick and an inch or so wide and they're mounted in a strip so that you want to get the temperature of, we put it right on top of frame number five if you've got a 10 frame hive in the middle of the brood box on top of the frames.

If you got a couple of brood boxes, then we put one on each brood box. That's watching the lower and upper brood box temperatures. Then underneath the hive, we put a scale and that scale is mostly, it's looking at the hive weight certainly, so you see swarms and you see nectar coming in. It's mostly telling you what the trees are doing or the blooms.

Kim: Rich, I got two questions for that. You said, it's a quarter of an inch high and it sits on top of the top bar of your brood nest. If there's a box above it, I'm wondering about bee space being a challenge. Then, Jeff, since you've got one of these too, do you see propolis being an issue on these?

Rich: Go ahead, Jeff.

Jeff: Well, yes. For both questions yes, there's a little bit of bar cone that the bees will mess around with it and a little bit of propolis, but it's not a issue. It doesn't cement the-- it doesn't connect the bottom box to the top box that separates real nicely for the most part. I've not had an issue.

Rich: We found that we use a real slippery plastic and bees love things that are rough and they really propolise that stuff. It was surprising and anyone out there should try this, that if you want to put something in the hive, put packing tape over it. They pretty much leave it alone. It's like, "Yes, I don't like that."

Kim: Okay. Well, I was just curious about it since I haven't seen one. Well, that's good then, it doesn't interfere with life in the hive.

Rich: Well, that's one of the design goals that you try to do. You don't want to screw things up.

Ad: Betterbee is pleased to sponsor today's episode of beekeeping today podcast. For over 40 years, Betterbee has supplied beekeepers across the country with the tools, equipment, and knowledge needed to succeed. Because many Betterbee employees are beekeepers themselves, they understand your needs and challenges and are better prepared to answer your beekeeping questions. From their colorful catalog to their support of beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast, Betterbee truly lives up to their tagline of beekeeper serving beekeepers. See for yourself at betterbee.com.

Kim: I'm really impressed with your webpage. I encourage people to go take a look at it. It's got a lot of information in it. I was looking at the scale you have. You have two kinds of scales in there. One of them just sits on the front of the hive and the other one measures the whole hive and the scale that sits on the front of hive is weighing the front half of the hive?

Rich: Yes. When we started this, we did interviews with people and said, "Okay, you have a choice. Would you like a scale that's maybe less accurate?" There's a difference between precision and accuracy. Precision being how small of a change you can see, accuracy being that it might be off a pound, but you're still seeing these small changes. It being cheaper, well, like most beekeepers cheaper was good, so it does a couple of things for us.

It's a smaller device, so it's easier to ship and these things do break. We're putting them outside and we're treating them rough. Shipping it back and forth if we do need to work on it is cheaper. If you have a full hive scale, that's harder to deal with. For most people you're wondering, okay, is the nectar flow on? Is it going up or is it going down? If you know the hive weight is 150 pounds or 145 pounds, it doesn't really matter. You care if it went up 2 pounds today or down 2 pounds. That's the reason for going for the half hive scale and we just doubled the results and that's good enough. Then we found that especially for researchers, they really wanted accurate weight. We came up with the full hive scale. In fact, what we did this year because, again, many beekeepers are, let's say, cost-conscious, we started offering it as a kit because we realized that, "Okay, why should we ship something that's the size of a beehive and made out of two by fours when you can do that yourself?" We sell the kits pre-calibrated or we decided that do it yourself people, save them some money. We got various flavors of all these things really to just try to make everybody happy, which is all we're trying to do.

Jeff: World peace.

Rich: World peace, yes.

Jeff: Search with a hive scale. [laughs] Well, I will tell you that I've worked with all three of the different scales. I actually have the scale under the back of the hive, but I went to the extent of doing the pivot point with the angle iron and everything else and no matter what the scale is and I actually like the green one, the WT scale. I really enjoy that one because it has an integrated slided rack, which I use in all my hives. The scales are really effective and I've always wanted to scale under my hive and the BroodMinder scale, I was like, "This works. This is nice." Because I don't really care whether does the hive actually weigh 105 pounds, but if I can see an increase to 110, then that's significant.

I know there's a change. There's a change that's happening. You mentioned swarming before. It's really interesting just from a biology standpoint seeing the hive weight drop after a swarm. It's like, "What? Oh, my, yes, that makes sense. That does make sense." It's fun as a beekeeper saying putting all this together in one sitting at your office and looking at the computer screen and being able to see everything that's going on in your bee yard is fantastic.

Rich: What we really love is extending the work that Wayne and Silas started with the NASA HoneyBeeNet. When we start collecting this from all over the country, all over the globe, then we all know that weight is nectar, nectar is blooming, blooming is climate, and year over year, that's really telling us some pretty cool information as we pile up all this data. We're having fun, it's terribly interesting, we meeting tons of great people and great researchers. That's been really valuable for us. Personally, this is the first year I put in a 2-pound package in late May and they went to 350 pounds.

Jeff: Wow.

Rich: Tell you what, watching that on the scale really makes you feel good.

Jeff: That is fun. There's a bunch of things I want to talk to you about and Kim probably does too, but you touched on it just a little bit. Now, let's keep talking about products before we get onto the Bee Counted.

Rich: Okay.

Jeff: What do you have on tap for 2022? What should we start saving for this year from a sensor standpoint?

Rich: Two cool things were really working-- well, three cool things. I'll start with the first one. We just implemented a third-party device. One of the things I'll make a pitch for is we started a Facebook group that we're trying to not make BroodMinder per se. It's really hive monitoring. If you search hive monitoring on Facebook, you'll come up with this group and a bunch of great people are posting there at the entire [unintelligible 00:24:35] Yukon and post a lot about how he's keeping his bees and it's a really good conversation point that's going on with all that.

The other thing is that on that site, we got a request for LoRa connected devices. LoRa is long-range wireless, and it's popular in Europe and several places, but the wireless connection will go over a mile. This company YoLink makes them. We integrated their products into our ecosystem. We're really interested in integrating pretty much anybody's products into our ecosystem competitors or whoever. That's a push for this year.

Another one, which is going to be fun. We've been working a couple of years with the Herb Aumann who's up in Maine and he started, now, I guess about three or four years ago with a BeeDar. He was using radar as an inference monitor. We're implementing that and working with Herb to implement his system, which he called Janus and it's doing two things. One it's has a radar that's looking at the bees coming and going, and then it also has an acoustic pickup, which is listening to the hive. We'll be coming out with a lot more information about this as we get close, but we're going to integrate that into our system and as a bee activity monitor. That's pretty exciting. Then the third thing is just last Monday, we got notified that we received a National Science Foundation grant to pursue our mite counter.

Jeff: Oh, wow. Congratulations.

Rich: Last time I was on here, I said, "Yes, we're working on a mite counter, look for us next summer where we found out it was a lot harder than we thought, but we're working with Purdue University on this, we've done some preliminary things. This year Steve Cantley is helping us and we're going to be pushing for that.

Jeff: Wow.

Rich: We got a lot on the plate. It's all really exciting.

Kim: Rich, one of the things that when I was looking at your webpage, I noticed something called the SubHub. If I can understand what that is, it's if you've got 20 colonies in a bee yard and you've got sensors in each one of those colonies, it gathers all of that data into one location and then downloads it all at once to someplace that you directed to?

Rich: Yes. The idea we had was that if you've got 20 or 30 hives in your apiary and the temperature is telling you individual hive information, the scale is telling you about what's blooming and those sorts of things, but the hive health varies so much from hive to hive that you end up with 20 temperature devices. If you're gathering those one at a time, it's tedious. The SubHub just sits there, and once every 10 minutes, it wakes up, listens to all 20 devices, and then when you show up at your apiary, you connect to this one device and it will transfer about 50 years' worth of data in two minutes.

Kim: Wow.

Rich: It's a lot faster than we need, but when you show up two weeks and you've got 20 or 30 hives, I think Jeff can tell you, if you're doing it manually, it can get tedious.

Jeff: Especially in the rain.

Rich: Especially in the rain, yes. The SubHub we invented just to make it easier.

Kim: I guess it would. That makes a lot of sense if you've got a lot of colonies and you are far enough away that you don't have good electronic transmission, I can just show up and--

Rich: You pull up in your truck, you connect to a SubHub, and in two minutes, you basically have the status of all your hives.

Jeff: That's pretty neat.

Rich: I have to give credit. Rich Hogan did all the firmware for that and we have a number of people on our team and they're all pretty much working for nothing. We are all beekeepers and we are all looking at this and saying, "Okay, well, if we do together we will love this stuff and if we love it, then we know that there are people out there like Jeff and others who, who really are using it. It's not just a frail.

Kim: I got to bet that the people that have been using this, Jeff included but even bigger beekeepers who have numerous hives, have you been able to work with them or touch base with them? In the big picture, is this saving me labor? Is it saving me money? Is this saving me time and is it making me a better beekeeper?

Rich: That is the real question, because frankly if it's not doing that we're wasting our time. Finding out what that return on investment is, has been one of the missions and it's taken a while because this is all new, beekeeping is pretty slow to adopt it. What we do find is that we have a number of people now, and it's nice because when people come and get things and then say, "Well, I need more of them," they're actually using it.

People like Theresa Martin in Kentucky, her hives are all remote and she's going out and checking and using that to see if they did swarm while she was gone. We have a number of people who are enjoying it and we need to convert that though to, okay, is it saving us dollars? We're not quite there yet. I don't know. Give me your opinion, Jeff. You're a long-time user.

Jeff: I'm no longer keeping close up any of my expenses or time spent, but it does help you realize-- Hey, I'm always been one that's-- the more you disturb the bees, the more problems you cause for them. If I can look at a graph and after a while, I've learned how mostly at least to have a basic understanding how to read the graph of the temperature and the weight gain and compare it to the outside temperature and everything else to understand, well, this hive is really healthy. The queen is firing all cylinders.

Both brood chambers are right there unheated, and they're gaining weight. I don't need to open them. I don't need to risk damaging that queen who's working so well. That saves time. That does save time. Then this time of year when you start seeing the outside temperature and both brood box, temperature is about the same, and following the same fluctuation, you say, "Well, I don't need to wait till the end of March or March to find out that I have a dead colony there. I have that dead colony and I can plan on splits or nucs or packages." That does help save some time ultimately.

Rich: The other thing that we have going on, what we've discovered since we've started all this is this is a huge thing we're trying to accomplish. I say that because sticking a temperature sensor in a hive is no big deal. We can do that, but then there's getting data to the network and all those sorts of things, but the final crucial stage is that data to beekeeper connection.

That's where we still are with the early adopters, people like Jeff, who can understand the graphs and all those sorts of things, but Lorenzo Ponds and his group in France, Melis Farrah, because you can't do everything, we can't do everything, but their focus is that beekeeper connection. They want to speak beekeeping. They don't want to speak engineering or science. This is where they're investing a lot of energy in the last three years, I guess.

They take our data and then take the environmental data from the network or from local weather stations, and they are generating alerts to say, "Hey, there's a snowstorm coming, you should, blah, blah, blah your hives." Strength of your hive is here and compare it to the other ones in the area and to actually take the data and utilize it, which is another huge project because you have to understand, you have to get the data, but you also have to have it documented in a way that you can say, "Okay, this means that." It's a long process and we're just working through it.

Kim: I would guess that your Bee Counted data, the website where you collect all of that stuff is going a long way in-- the last three years when this happened inside and now it's happening outside, I can probably predict that I'm going to have a problem inside my hive in a week or so.

Rich: That's exactly what we were talking about this morning. Anya McGuirk in North Carolina has joined the team. She's a very recently retired data scientist/ beekeeper. She is super enthusiastic and then she worked for SAS for a lot of years. We are taking previous two summers' data, and we have these swarm triggers that we've been getting, and now she's going through that and we're refining those algorithms.

Exactly to what you're saying there, Kim is that we've got this increasingly large pile of data, which is really vital, and every year is just we're trying to improve and bring more beekeeping information out of us.

Jeff: Real briefly though, let's jump back. The Bee Counted is an option that a beekeeper who's using the BroodMinder product can opt-in to share their information anonymously to a larger group for data scientists for other beekeepers to view online.

Rich: Anyone out there right now can go to beecounted.org and there's a bunch of information there, but there's also the map of live data from the beekeepers. You don't need passwords or anything. That's our public information site, and you can go. If you know that someone has a hive up in Olympia, Washington, click in that area. We just do it by zip code so that people aren't going to come and get your honey and that sort of stuff.

We have some people who actually share their data with their mentors that way. Within our normal mybroodminder.com, you can share data between people. We are really trying to push the social aspect of this and all work together like our bees to do incredible things.

Jeff: It is really fun. I'll make sure the links are in the show notes for anybody who wants to go take a look at what we're talking about in Bee Counted. Even if I can get a direct link to my apiary, you can see how many dead hives I have this winter.

Rich: Basically, everybody can share their own apiary with a four-letter code that we have. It's a random code. They don't know who it is. It's private but public.

Jeff: You can click on an individual hive. It's still randomized. You don't know which hive that is, but you can click on an individual hive and then you can look at what we're talking about graphs for that individual hive over a period of time. It's really enlightening. I encourage people to explore that.

Rich: One of the things that's fun is to look at them brood up in the spring. You see down in the San Francisco Area, they start brooding up strong in January and by the time you get into Canada, it's March or so. You see the temperature just come and it rails up to 95 degrees and sits there until late in the fall and then it ramps back down, of course, unless you lose your queen or one of the other 10,000 things that happened to us all during the season.

Kim: Taking this another step, I could see using this data and this equipment if I was a commercial beekeeper and I was hiring out my hives for pollination, I could go to a grower and say, "Here's my data. This is what my bees have been doing. This is how big they are." Vice versa, a grower could say, "I want to see your bee data." It could work both ways, but it would work both ways for the benefit of both, I think.

Rich: Indeed, that is the model that people like BeeHero are going after is that the pollination services is this huge agribusiness. We are going a slightly different way that we are looking at bee health, and we're doing this on the backs right now of Back Yard Beekeepers and sideliners because they can afford to do it right now. This is our proof of the principle of what we're learning and how we recognize these signatures and then move it forward into general ag as time goes on. I guess we're more about Bee Health and then several other groups are more about pollination services and like you said, Kim, exactly that I want to know, I have strong hives in there, how do I know that?

Kim: Then how can I prove it?

Rich: Yes, we want to see data.

Kim: I got a hard copy right here. Take a look. You're developing this for a reason, but people are going to take that tool that you're developing. I can see applications all over the place that how growers and beekeepers could use this for a variety of reasons. You're sitting on a gold mine I think.

Rich: That'd be nice.

[laughter]

If we make our little impact, we're happy already. I'll tell you that. If nothing else, the number of really high-quality people, beekeepers are pretty cool. You go to these meetings, which I really miss this year. All I went to was EAS. He missed seeing people like Tim walking around with his iPhone filming everybody, but we'll get there. We'll be back. Life's a journey, right?

Jeff: The one last question I have is, in terms of the data, are you part of the-- What is it? BXML initiative? The standardization of the bee data?

Rich: The Bee Inform project and--

Jeff: It has a couple of different name [crosstalk]- - Yes.

Rich: I guess a year or so ago, Jerry Bromenshenk had his big meeting and there's a lot of work going on. We are co-operating with all that. It's like all of those projects, you just run out of time at some point.

Jeff: All those volunteer projects is essentially is really what it is.

Rich: Like I said, we are very open to bringing in anyone's data. One of the things that has just been awesome is our number one programmer, Amanda Stultz, has done just a fabulous job, and her working with Lorenzo, they re-designed the app this year. It's become a lot more intuitive and you find out one of the things we found out was that these things move between hives a lot. It's not surprising, but it just we didn't think about that. You have a hive that perishes, or you do a split, or you do all these things and your devices are moving around all the time. That's a database nightmare.

Amanda has done just a fabulous job on the app and on my BroodMinder to work with all these. There's literally $2 million worth of software that we've written to stitch all this together. It's been done mostly on the cheap because we're all beekeepers and we like doing it, but if we were charging what we get paid for real work, it would be that much. We're really happy with the team. Tao Hartman, I think you've talked with him before. He's our number one quality control. He runs 50 hives, fully instrumented. He tells us everything that isn't working right.

[chuckles]

Rich: It's crazy.

Kim: That's what you need.

Rich: Mike Ford, he does all our support. It's people like this that are making it possible to do this project because frankly, it's not a one-person job. I'm just super happy with where we are and life is good.

Kim: It sounds like you got a good team going for you there.

Rich: It's really been incredible. It's a super-duper team.

Jeff: Fantastic. Rich, is anything else you'd like to mention we haven't asked you about yet?

Rich: No. I think we've got a lot of cool stuff going on, really happy about that. As always, every hive counts. Got to get that in there somewhere.

Jeff: You need to put that on a t-shirt. You need a green t-shirt that has the BroodMinder logo, and every hive counts on the back.

Rich: One of our guy is telling us we need to have those, maybe we'll get them.

Jeff: [chuckles] Well, Rich, thanks so much for being on the show. Look forward to getting caught up with you again. I hope you have a great season.

Rich: I'll do my best. Take care guys.

Kim: You've convinced me, Rich. I'm going to have to chase us now. [crosstalk]

Rich: All good. I'm happy about that. You'll be surprised.

Kim: Good.

Rich: It's wonderful.

Kim: Good. I look forward to it. Thanks for being here today.

Rich: You're welcome.

Jeff: Take care.

Rich: Thank you.

Jeff: I was really happy to have Rich on the show. I like my BroodMinder sensors. I would miss them if I didn't have them.

Rich: I can see because I'm going to have to write the bullet here and get some involved in at least a couple of my hives this summer. The one thing that I didn't get out and I'm sorry I didn't get to ask him about it is, he's got a device that can deal with capturing data from something like 2,000 hives. It's just bigger, one of the things that we talked about, but it can listen to up to 80 hives, and then it can begin to gather that data so that a commercial beekeeper really can do this.

Jeff: I think that's what they call it, the SubHub, I think. It can collect all that. Didn't talk about that?

Kim: No. SubHub was a smaller device.

Jeff: All right.

Kim: This one is solar-powered. You got an antenna that sits on top of your hive. You don't have to change batteries all the time. It's just one step more towards-- If I'm a commercial beekeeper and I've got a lot of bees in California, I can start showing growers what I got.

Jeff: I enjoy the technology and what it can do for us. This is definitely a product I would recommend the folks to invest in and look at. Check out the links. You could see what data is collected.

Kim: Share this with people who you think might be able to use this kind of information, this kind of data. Send them over to Better Bee to get a starter kit.

Jeff: Better Bee is the North America distributor?

Kim: Yes. The only one.

Jeff: BroodMinder products. Good folks at Better Bee. All right. That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple podcasts, wherever you download or stream the show. Your vote helps other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you like. You can get there directly from our website by clicking on reviews, along the top of any webpage. As always, we thank Bee Culture. The magazine for American beekeeping for their continued support of Beekeeping Today Podcast. We want to thank our regular episode sponsor Global Patties. Check them out at www.globalpatties.com.

We want to thank Strong Microbials for their support of the podcast. Check out their probiotic line at www.strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Better Bee for being our supporter. Check out their supplies, all of their great beekeeping supplies at www.betterbee.com. Finally, and most importantly, we want to thank you, the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show. Feel free to send us questions and comments at questionsofbeekeepingtodaypodcast.com. We'd love to hear from you. Anything else, Kim?

Kim: I think that wraps it up. It was a good show.

Jeff: It sure was. Hey, thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:47:32] [END OF AUDIO]

Rich Morris

Lead Drone, Founder, CEO

Rich has spent 30+ years developing products for the medical, scientific, and consumer worlds. Today he is founder and CEO of Broodminder. Rich is an electrical engineer by training, system engineer and project manager by trade. Rich lives on the Yahara river in Stoughton Wisconsin, has four bee hives, and likes long walks on the beach.