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July 11, 2022

Hive Heart with Duane Combs (S5, E04)

Hive Heart with Duane Combs (S5, E04)

On today’s episode, we talk with Dwayne Combs about his business Beehive Monitoring USA and the line of beehive sensors, by a Slovakian company manufacturing the HiveHeart monitor. Dave’s business is the US distributor of the equipment they...


On today’s episode, we talk with Dwayne Combs about his business Beehive Monitoring USA and the line of beehive sensors, by a Slovakian company manufacturing the HiveHeart monitor. Dave’s business is the US distributor of the equipment they produce.

The device he sells is called HiveHeart 3.0. You can obtain the HiveHeart internal monitoring device and one of 2 levels of scales you can also purchase. With these come an App for your phone. The Hive Heart uploads the data it collects from your hive to your phone, then your phone sends that data to the Bee Hive Monitoring servers in the cloud. You data is analyzed and available to you in easy to view graphs or downloadable as individual reports.

All of the data is useful to the beekeeper to make informed management decisions on the health and productivity of their monitored colonies. Additionally, it will help reduce the number of visits a hive will require, will warn of impending problems, and prepare the beekeeper for what needs to be done on the next visit.

Duane also discusses the challenges of being a beekeeper in the Southwest in an area where Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) are still an issue.

We hope you enjoy the episode. Leave comments and questions in the Comments Section of the episode's website.

Thank you for listening!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast: 

Honey Bee Obscura

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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

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! 

Thanks for Northern Bee Books for their sponsorship of Bee Books: Old & New with Kim Flottum. Northern Bee Books is the publisher of bee books available worldwide from their website or from Amazon and bookstores everywhere. They are also the publishers of The Beekeepers Quarterly and Natural Bee Husbandry. Check them out today!

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

We want to also thank 2 Million Blossoms as a sponsor of the podcast. 2 Million Blossoms is a regular podcast featuring interviews with leading bee and insect researchers in the world of pollination, hosted by Dr. Kirsten Traynor.

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We hope you enjoy this podcast and welcome your questions and comments in the show notes of this episode or: 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: Be Strong by Young Presidents; Epilogue by Musicalman; Walking in Paris by Studio Le Bus; Original guitar background instrumental by Jeff Ott

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

Growing Planet Media, LLC

Transcript

S5, E04 – Hive Heart With Duane Combs

[music]

Jeff: 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: I'm Kim Flottum.

Global Patties: Hey Jeff and Kim. Today's sponsor is Global Patties. They're a family-operated business that manufactures protein supplement patties for honeybees. It's a good time to think about honeybee 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 honeybees. 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 in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com

Jeff: Thanks Sheryl, and thank you Global Patties. Each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsor support, and we know you'd rather we get right to talk about beekeeping. However, our great sponsors are critical to help making all of this happen. From the transcripts, the hosting fees, the software, the hardware, the microphones, the subscriptions, the recorders, they enable each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of this podcast. Bee Culture has been a magazine for American beekeeping since 1873. Subscribe to Bee Culture today.

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Jeff: Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining us. Kim will be here shortly. Today we have a great guest Duane Combs of Beehive Monitoring USA and Hive Heart. It's a great discussion about a new product that's now available in North America. That includes sensors for your hive, scales, even a bee counter. It's something worth looking at. In fact, let's get to that right away. I have some queen cells I need to transfer and they will not wait. Here's a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.

StrongMicrobials: Hey beekeepers, many times during the year, honey bees encounter scarcity of floral sources. As good beekeepers, we feed our bees artificial diets of protein and carbohydrates to keep them going during those stressful times. What is missing though, are key components. The good microbes necessary for a bee to digest the food and convert it into metabolic energy. Only SuperDFM HoneyBee by Strong Microbials can provide the necessary microbes to optimally convert the artificial diet into energy necessary for improving longevity, reproduction, immunity, and much more. SuperDFM HoneyBee is an all-natural probiotic supplement for your honeybees, find it at strongmicrobials.com or at fine bee supply stores everywhere.

Jeff: While you're at the Strong Microbial site, make sure you click on and subscribe to The Hive. Their regular newsletter is full of interesting beekeeping facts and product updates. Welcome back. Sitting across the virtual Zoom table here at Beekeeping Today Podcast is Duane Combs, president of Arizona Beekeepers LLC, and Beehive Monitoring North America. Duane, welcome to the podcast.

Duane: Thanks. It's good being with you guys today.

Kim: Nice to meet you, Duane.

Duane: Good to meet you, Kim.

Jeff: Duane, I invited you here, anybody who's been listening to the show any length of time knows that I get caught up in gadgets in Beehive Monitoring. I saw you first earlier this springtime some point on the Facebook group on Beehive Monitoring. You had shared a screen display of sensor information that I hadn't seen before and that's what brought me to your attention. Can you describe Beehive Monitoring North America, USA, and the products you sell, and then we'll get into different things.

Duane: Yes, how this all started is I became a beekeeper in January 27th of 2019. I started with two hives, fell in love with it, wanted to expand, built 15 hives. Being a new beekeeper, your problem is always understanding what's going on in your hives and so I decided to use technology. I did some research on the technology and found Beehive Monitoring, which is in Slovakia. Just so you can find it, it's not Slovenia, it's Slovakia. They're North of Poland, East of Ukraine, South of Hungary, and they also touch Austria and Czech Republic.

I found this little company that they started in 2016. They had what they called The Hive Heart, which was a device that you set in your hive that measured inside temperature, inside humidity, and sound so you've got both the frequency and the amplitude. The other thing they had was a scale. I started buying their equipment. I pushed 100 hives this year, and I got to the point where I owned so much of their equipment that I decided that I'd see if I can find a cheaper way of buying it. I asked if they had a distributor for the US and they said no. I said, "Well, would you be interested in having me be your distributor?" I became their distributor and now sell the products.

Jeff: It sounds almost like the old shaver commercial. You liked it so much you bought the company. You didn't buy the company, but you got the distributor.

Duane: Yes.

Jeff: That's really cool.

Kim: How long have you been working with them, Duane?

Duane: I signed a contract with them in March of 2020. They sell a full range of products, I basically focus on three pieces. One is the Hive Heart 3.0. The second is the least expensive scale, the 3W and then what I feel is their best scale, the XS scale. I basically advertise those three products on my website. Like I said, they even sell bee equipment now. They sell a variety of products, but I focus on those three.

Kim: If I went to their webpage, and there's a whole raft of pieces of equipment, I could go to you to get them?

Duane: Basically, you would go to my website, which is beehivemonitoringusa.com. You would look at the equipment, and you typically decide that you wanted to buy either a hive heart, which sells for $65, or a hive heart and an XS scale, or the other scale. The XS scale package sells for $260. You would place an order there to buy those components and then you would get an email from me telling you that I had shipped your product, what I shipped to you, tracking information, when it was expected to be delivered to you. Then telling you that you would get a follow-up email that would give you what you need to install the equipment, the installation instructions. That would ship out.

I track when the package is delivered, and I send you the second email. The second email welcomes you to the Beehive Monitoring family and gives you instructions and a PDF that gives you a QR code and the website for the server and your account. Then you would take that PDF, and you would download their green phone app and their gold phone app. The green phone app is called the Beehive Monitoring Gateway. It uses Bluetooth to go to your device, upload the information from your device, and then upload that to the servers in Slovakia.

Then the servers send back information to your phone that appears on your gold app that gives you all of your information that you've just uploaded plus historic data for up to five years on screens. The gold application, the Beehive Monitoring application, both of these which you would download either from Google or from the Apple Store depending on the type of phone you have. It gives you a series of graphs that will cover 6 hours, 24 hours, a week, a month, three months, one year, or five years.

The first screen will give you your temperature, your humidity, inside and outside. The second screen will give you your current weight, the weight change in the last 24 hours. The weight change in the last seven days, 30 days. Then, an estimate of activity. The way they determine the estimate of activity is you know what your hive weighs before the sun rises when all of the bees ideally are in the hive, and then you can look at the weight during the day and it drops as more bees fly out. They estimate how many bees have flown out.

Then, the third screen gives you your frequency and aptitude. Then, the fourth screen gives you a opportunity to click on whether you have pollen. It covers, "Did you see pollen in your inspection? Did you have cap brood? Did you have open brood? Did you have eggs? Did you see the queen? Were there open queen cells, closed queen cells? Or does it need further inspection or treatment?"

All of this is on your phone. Now, what really sets us apart is in our software, there's four lights and one light is the status of your hive. The next is the bees. Third is the queen and the fourth is swarm. Those lights are either green, yellow, or red. If they're yellow, you may have a problem. If it's red, you have a problem. Ours is set up so that it will predict swarming for 21 days, it's yellow. Then, when you're eight days from swarming, it turns red.

I bought the system because of the colored lights because as a new beekeeper, you don't know what's going on and your tendency is, you want to check your bees every day. You know what happens when you check your bees every day? You cause a disaster. It's a security blanket. I can go out there and download my information. If I see all green lights and I go, "Everything's perfect." Leave them alone.

Now, as a commercial beekeeper, it helps me because now that I've got a hundred hives, I've got them in groups of 20. When I go out there, I can pull up the data, not worry about the green ones if I've looked at them last week, and just focus on the ones that need help. That's the good news of what we do.

Jeff: Do you have the sensors in each of your hundred hives?

Duane: I don't have them on every hive, but I do have them, especially on the ones that I'm doing scientific studies on. Right now, for my master beekeeper from Montana, I've got three sets of five hives. Five are in the sun. Five are in the shade and five are under misters. What we're looking forward to, or what we're attempting to do is look for changes and performance of the hives for a four-week period, based on the environment that they're in.

Jeff: I could have given you beehives and misters. Here just in the Pacific Northwest, it's been cool and rainy. You wouldn't even had to set up anything. [chuckles] Just kidding.

Duane: I know, but with our humidity as low as 5% and anything over 20% is, "Oh, my God." It's a different world.

Kim: As I understand it, these devices are in a hive and they are collecting data continuously.

Duane: You can determine how often they collect data. You can collect data every 10 minutes, every hour, once a day, however you want to set it up. You have choices. Now, the problem is the manufacturer will tell you that Hive Heart battery, which is just one of those CR batteries, the little round batteries-

Jeff: The 2032s.

Duane: -will last you a year. I can guarantee you that if you only measure the data once a year, it'll last longer than a year. If you do it every 10 minutes, my experience in the heat of the desert is the battery lasts about 90 days. Frequency determines battery use.

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Kim: The devices in the hive that are collecting this data and you come along to collect it and they are transmitting this data to your cell phone?

Duane: Yes. What I do is I go out to my hive. I open the green application, the gateway, and then set it down and unload my truck while it's loading all of the datas from the hive. Then, assuming I have phone service, it uploads the data to the server, and then the server downloads my reports. In five minutes, I can then sit down and open up the gold app, look at my data.

One of the things you can do is pull up all of the lights for all of your hives on one page. I just look at that and that tells me which ones I need to look at. You still have to inspect. When you're at the beginning of the year, I'm inspecting my hives weekly because as you know there's so much going on that you need to follow closely, but for us, and I have to do this in quotes, "Winter lasts from about November 15th to January 15th."

The temperature rarely gets below 50 degrees. It does snow in Phoenix, Arizona once every 10 years. It either ends up on the mountains and you see it and it's gone in a day, or they tell you at the airport, "It snowed last night." Because as soon as it hit the ground, it melted.

Kim: That's a tough winter to have to put up with.

Duane: Kim, it's horrid. I've got to spare bedroom if you want to visit in January, February, March, but please don't come in July or August.

Kim: My money on both counts.

[laughter]

How far away does my cell phone need to be from that hive? Or how far away can my cell phone be from that hive to collect the data?

Duane: Unobstructed, they say 100 meters. Realistically, one of the problems I have is I have equipment here at my house. If I open the green application to look at something, all of a sudden, every sensor I have in the house is now listed. I'd say 100 feet.

Kim: If you've got more than one hive of this equipment in a bee yard, and the hives are 10 yards apart, and you're standing 40 feet from both of them, how does that work?

Duane: It picks everything up.

Kim: Does it combine them or does it-

Duane: No. It picks them up individually, lists them individually on the green app, telling you the status of your battery. It will tell you when it last loaded the data, the date and hour, when it last set the data up, date and hour.

Kim: Your phone recognizes the difference between those two hives and knows that it's two hives?

Duane: Yes. Each hive has a Bluetooth identification. That identification then turns around giving me the name that I've named it on, et cetera. That's the beauty of our equipment. Our major competitor has good products, but you have to be a computer geek to do it. With our stuff, when I send your PDF, you print it, you open up the gold application, you name your hive, tells you to take a picture of the QR code and it does everything else for you. It's all baked into the software. Now, is it time for my confession?

Jeff: [chuckles] Well, I don't know what you're going to confess to, but sure why not?

Duane: Okay. The reality is when I talk to people about sensors-- What the product is capable of, what it usually does is wonderful. I like to tell people, "If you have a scale from kindergarten to doctorate, the sensor industry is basically graduating from 8th grade." They're doing some incredible stuff, but it's not without bumps. Let me give you an example. One of my yards is near Luke Air Force Base.

When they had the F16s, they were fairly quiet, but the F35s are really noisy. They train pilots there. They're taking those planes off at regular intervals. Guess what happens to my Bee Hearts when an F35 goes overhead in 100 feet, the aptitude and the frequency goes crazy. If they're flying often enough, the software then interprets that, that the hive is swarming.

[laughs] You get the swarm notice and you go out there and you're tearing the hive apart and you're looking where's the queen cells, what's going on. There's no queen cells. The bees are looking at you like you're crazy because they're happy as clams doing absolutely nothing. You do have those sorts of things. There's also questions that the software doesn't answer yet. One of the things we noticed is-- When we started setting up the experiment, which I think will start July 1st, technically, but one of the early things we noticed was that a beehive will gain about four pounds during the day and then it will lose about three and three-quarters of those pounds at night. It's dark out so all the bees are in the hive, why is the weight dropping? The only thing we can conclude is that because of our dry environment and our heat, they're evaporating that much water over the course of a night. The stuff is wonderful but just because your lights turn yellow or red doesn't mean you have a problem because we're trying to measure and figure all of this out and when you start going to the back end, the complexity is so great that it's not perfect.

Jeff: I definitely see that fluctuation and weight here in the Pacific Northwest too. So it--

Duane: See, and you have water every night.

Jeff: Oh, well actually 10 months out of the year that's for sure. One of the things that you touched on, which is kind of interesting is the sensor market is the temperature and humidity is kind of a commodity.

Duane: Weight, temperature humidity. Everybody does.

Jeff: You go to Amazon and buy the sensors and build your own if you really wanted to if you were so inclined. I guess the point being that the magic is in the software, interpreting that data for the beekeeper. Can you talk a little bit about what that does today and what you can tell us it's going to be doing in the near future?

Duane: I don't know if I can tell you what they are going to do in the near future because the beauty of the American way and it's throughout the world is you've got people in their garages doing all kinds of strange things. I've got an intern that works with me that is my MacGyver. My dad was an auto mechanic and he never wanted me to use my hands. Whenever I had car problems I'd call dad up and he'd say, "Bring the car by." He'd fix it, pay for the parts and not charge me anything. The first time I went to get the brakes put on my car at a shop and when it was all over, they wanted $160. I had heart failure.

This guy is incredible and he's tinkering and he's come up with some ideas that I never would've thought about. The beauty is I can tell you that in two years, the technology will be better, but I can't tell you what it's going to be. One of the trends that I don't like and I'm happy about our manufacturer is everybody is looking for a way to charge you money monthly.

Jeff: Oh, subscription.

Duane: Yes. They all want that monthly fix from you. We store five years of your data and give you phone access for free. Because of what I'm doing, how I'm using the equipment, I need to be able to download my data into a spreadsheet or other documents and so I can have access to my account on their server for less than $16 a year. The average beekeeper doesn't need that because all you need to look at is the waves and the historic data.

For me, because I want to publish I've got to be able to list every 10-minute change for four weeks, which is a tremendous amount of data, and then I've got to be able to graph that and interpret and so forth and so on. I like the light system, I think for the average beekeeper, you've got to make it simple. Like I say, they have all kinds of equipment. They have a device that you put in front of your hive that uses light beams to measure every bee that comes in and out and a variety of other products.

Jeff: Do you carry that?

Duane: I can get them, but I don't stock them.

Jeff: That's just basically a be counter, right?

Duane: Yes. The bee counter. They also have little tags that you can put into your hive so that if somebody steals your hive, you can track it. Something they don't have that my MacGyver's working on is we want to attach FR chips to queens so that we can wave a wand on the outside of the box and determine if there's a queen in there or not and where she's at in the location.

Jeff: Oh, that's interesting. Kind of a 3D mapping of it?

Duane: Yes. What we're after is most of the people that teach basic beekeeping here tell you that you have to see your queen every time you inspect your hive. If you do that, you're spending way too long inspecting the hive. For me, what I do is to track my data, we use migratory pallets and I have the date, the number of frames of bees, the number of frames of brood, and if we saw the queen and if we saw eggs we don't even look for the queen. I use that basic data then to track my business because what I primarily do is sell nucs. I'll buy and sell honey, I'll buy and sell bees and I sell bee sensors.

Kim: One of the things, if I understood it right, is that they're also monitoring sound?

Duane: Well, yes. We're using frequency and aptitude and the best way to follow the queen is using sound. It also is an indicator of swarming. That's why our Heart 3 includes sound so that we can give you a report on the status of your queen and also give you an estimate of when they might be swarming.

Kim: The louder the noise gives you a prediction, the quieter the noise gives you a prediction. We recently had a guest on who was also measuring sounds and was able to come up with lots of behaviors based on the sounds. So those are the two you're looking at, you're looking at is the queen doing okay, and is it looking to swarm?

Duane: Yes. I know you know Jerry at Montana, he created a device, the Bee Health for monitoring and they use sound. If I wanted to I could buy sound recordings and then run that through his device to get their report too. I'm not doing that because I just don't need the data right now.

Kim: I'm thinking that if I know my colony is not going to swarm and my queen is alive, 95% of my work is done today.

Duane: Right. That's what I say. Isn't it wonderful? No, I'm not saying you need to get into your hives because there's other problems that can happen. You've got cross comb and a variety of things that you need to check on. You need to know how fast they're growing, what their food stores are so that you don't starve them to death. For us, the three reasons that our bees die is that they run out of food, they cook in the heat, or they die from varroa mites. The sensor won't predict those three events, but isn't it wonderful if you're going biweekly and you download the data to look at it and to see it's all green lights, I don't need to worry about it this week.

Kim: I need something like that.

[laughter]

Duane: How many hives do you have?

Kim: I'm running fewer every year. It seems I'm three this year and I'm finding that that's enough to keep an old man busy.

Duane: Yes. Well, put a Hive Heart in them.

Kim: I may have to think about that.

Jeff: Is there a hub or some wifi capability within the Hive Heart so that you don't have to visit the site to collect the data?

Duane: That's a problem for us. We have hubs like everybody else, but because it's a European company, I bought one, but I haven't used it because I hate those monthly payments. But from the people that I've talked that have tried them the phone frequencies in Europe are different than the phone frequencies in the US. I'm not sure that their hub would work here because of that problem. I've talked with people about a potential solution. The other thing is my MacGyver is thinking about using a cell phone, we would call the number, turn it on, and then run a piece of software that would download the info and upload it, and then shut the phone down.

Jeff: Oh, a new use for a burner phone [laughs].

Duane: Well, we all have drawers full of phones, and so this would be a way of doing that. When you come by once every three months or whatever, you could swap phones and recharge the battery.

Jeff: You'd still be paying the monthly fee for that phone.

Duane: Yes.

Jeff: I definitely like sensors having the ability to check on a remote site without visiting and getting a general idea of the flow on there or do I have issues there that I need to immediately address is a nice option. I'd be curious. It'll be nice once Beehive Monitoring has a solution for North America. What other products are you considering bringing to the United States from the Slovenian company?

Duane: I'm happy with the basics. If they come out with something that I feel I can't live without, or my basic philosophy is once a year I'll take a flyer. Once a year I'll bring something in and play with it and see how it works. I'm fine with the basics in terms of technology for hives. We're in the desert and one of the problems I have with the bee educational field is y'all are experts at winter, but you have nothing to say about the desert. When you bring the panel in, there's nobody to talk about what's going on. There's nobody that's in the desert that has the problems that I face.

It's like right now what I'm doing is I use a standard wood, 10 frame Langstroth box and we're putting two inches of foam on each side and then two inches of foam on top, which is R10, and then we're using the foam as an inter cover and then we're putting the migratory pallet on top of that. We're looking for ways to be productive in the summer because my problem is not winter, my problem is summer when it's 110 in the shade and there's no shade, my bees aren't out there working.

Jeff: Are you able to track the differences between an insulated hive and an uninsulated hive?

Duane: Basically with the Sun Group, we have the US distributor for the FMA Hive. I'm going to add one of their hives and then I'm going to add one of the standard foam hives and pick up data on the two of them just for comparative purposes. I don't need to use just a basic wood box because I know what happens with that. They cook.

Kim: Do you have a support group?

Duane: Yes. That's what the Facebook group is about. It was started by BroodM inder but if you look at it, the people that have all the pretty pictures and the lights, are my people. Everybody posts ideas and information about how they're using. When I get my project done, I'll be posting summaries of the data on that website so that everybody can discuss it. When we first discovered the four-pound gain to three and three-quarter pound loss in a day, we posted that. Michael posted that on the Facebook site and people commented, "Well, it could be this. It could be that." Yes, there is a group out there. It's on Facebook and it's Beehive Monitoring.

Kim: Well, that's good to know because a lot of times you get something new and you're out in the world all alone. Where do you go for help or for information?

Duane: Well, you need encouragement. That's why I belong to a bee club. I need those 85 year old retired beekeepers to tell me, "Well, this is how we did it 40 years ago." They dealt with it 40 years ago and they didn't go out buy individual coolers to put on their beehives.

Kim: Just one quick question away from the subject. You're in fire country right now, are any of those near where you are?

Duane: No, they're all up north. I don't even see the smoke. They're up north and they're down south. Fortunately, we've not had any forest fires here. All of the fires have been in range country. Well, the one fire is up near Flagstaff. That technically would be forest but yes.

Jeff: One of the problems you face, you mentioned the uniqueness to the Southwest with the heat. The other question unique to the South and the Southwest is the Africanized honeybee. Way back in the eighties that was a big issue. It's since died off for much of the nation but for those who live in the area of Africanized honeybees, is that an issue there in the Phoenix area and other beekeepers that you're working with?

Duane: That is a big issue. Basically, bottom line is we cannot open mate here because the African drones fly faster and are tougher than our European drones. They win every fight if they're in the area. One of the things we're working on-- What I wanted to originally do as my project for the master beekeeper program was, I ran across a paper that said, "If you take an African queen and breed her for two generations with European drones, that you can take the aggressiveness out." One of my intern, Michael's great loves is, he's taken the class on artificial insemination and he wants to become a queen breeder so that we can have local Queens because we bring those sweet Queens from Hawaii in that are used to that humidity and nice weather, and we throw them into our summer at 110 with no shade. They don't always do well. We need some local tough Queens.

One of the things I'm doing for him is, I'll be providing nurse bees and drones so that he can start breeding queens. One of the things we're going to do as an experiment down the road, I couldn't do it for this time because it would take longer than two months. We both have one hive with an African queen but I tell people with my bees, I'm using coal lines. When I pop the lid on a hive, they don't even look at me, let alone fly up. when you pop the hive on an African hive that's aggressive, you'll get 200 to 2000 bees chasing you for a quarter-mile plus. We both have African Queens that we are able to smoke and they'll be maybe 200 bees fly around but they don't really attack us. We're thinking of using them as the queen source to be bred with the pole line drones to see if we can come up. Frankly, the African bees, if you get around their aggressiveness and their tendency to swarm, and as a new builder, swarming bees don't bother me. I love bees that want to swarm 10 times a year. They're fantastic bees. They're tough as nails and they produce.

Jeff: Their condition for the hot environment too there for you.

Duane: Oh yes.

Kim: Well, what have we missed in all of this?

Duane: Other than giving me an order to buy sensors, that it was fine.

[laughter]

Jeff: Well, you never know.

Duane: What I want to say about sensors, especially for the new beekeepers. We see these beekeepers, they'll go out, they'll buy the Apimaye Hive, and then on top of that they'll put the Flow Hive. If they want to spend that kind of money on their bees, buy simple sensors, use the data, and check your bees for mites every month. Check your bees for mites every month and learn all you can. If you learn all you can, if you'll collect the data and if you check for mites, then you should be successful.

Kim: Oh, it sounds good.

Jeff: Well said. Well said. We've been talking with Duane Combs of Arizona Beekeepers LLC and Beehive Monitoring USA. Duane, it's been great having you on the show. Look forward to talking to you in the future.

Duane: Thanks a lot guys, it's been great talking.

[music]

Jeff: I like gadgets. Here's another gadget for you Kim.

Kim: I think it's probably a gadget for you Jeff. You're the gadget guy. I'm that old guy who was keeping bees 40 years ago that's still like-- What's her name's? Grandfather said, "The bees sound different today and that's about as complicated and sophisticated as I ever get.

Jeff: Amara's grandfather. I thought of you when she said that that's funny. I'm running out of room in my beehives. I have so many sensors in my beehives.

Kim: [laughs] There's a point here where you may want to think about adding another one.

Jeff: [laughs] I need to add some bees to my sensors.

Kim: There you go.

Jeff: [laughs] Obviously I find it fascinating. I also like the fact that there are options for beekeepers on what they want to do and how they want to view and use their data. The more choices, the better and competition is good. Ultimately, the consumers benefit if there's a lot of competition for them. Keep it up guys.

[music]

Jeff: That about wraps it up for this episode. Before we go, I want to encourage our listeners to rate us five stars on Apple Podcast. Wherever you download and 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 globalpatties.com. Thanks to Strong Microbials for their support of this podcast. Check out their probiotic line at strongmicrobials.com. We want to thank Better Bee for their long time support. Check out all their great beekeeping supplies sat betterbee.com. Thanks to Northern Bee Books for their support of Bee Books old new with Kim Flottum. Check out all of their books at northernbeebooks.co.uk. Finally and most importantly, we want to thank you the Beekeeping Today Podcast listener for joining us on this show. Feel free to leave us comments and questions at leave a comment section under each episode on the website. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

[00:39:11] [END OF AUDIO]

 

Duane Combs Profile Photo

Duane Combs

Owner

Arizona Beekeepers llc is a family-owned beekeeping operation based in Litchfield Park, Arizona. We started our company with three key goals: 1) We want to save and increase bee populations and help manage the threat of African “killer” bees in our dry desert environment; 2) We want to produce the best pure, raw local honey possible; 3) We want to use sensors and other tools to develop effective management techniques to help all kinds of beekeepers who are facing an increasingly harder environment and business.

Starting with two Italian bee nucs and using sensor technology, we can manage our hives and still minimize the disruption of our bees; solving a major problem with absconding African bees. Sensors have become so important to us that we have become the United States distributor for Bee Hive Monitoring, so that we can offer scales and sensors to other beekeepers throughout the United States. Bee sensors are sold through our website www.beehivemonitoringUSA.com

African bees are a real management challenge, and part of our commitment to wild bees was to save urban African bees by requeening them to reduce their defensiveness and making them compatible with urban beekeeping. As we could not make the economics work for this model, we have had to abandon this work. We now buy and sell honey, buy and sell bees, sell bee sensors, and teach beekeeping classes.

One of my interns wants to start breeding queens using artificial insemination because of our African problem. For my Master Beekeeper project, through the University of Montana, we will be inseminating African queens with VSH drones this summer to breed out the defensiveness of the Africans.

At our core, our mission will always be to grow bees and help people become successful beekeepers. That is why we started and that is why I am working on becoming a master beekeeper.