May 24, 2021

Hive Types - Part 5: The Future of Hives - The HyperHyve with Mike James (S3, E52)

Hive Types - Part 5: The Future of Hives - The HyperHyve with Mike James  (S3, E52)

This is without doubt, the most technologically advanced, commercially available, honey bee hive monitoring system developed so far. Mike James has a background in home automation and when he started keeping bees not all that long ago, a first thought...


Mike JamesThis is without doubt, the most technologically advanced, commercially available, honey bee hive monitoring system developed so far.

Mike James has a background in home automation and when he started keeping bees not all that long ago, a first thought was supporting his package bees with some insulation. And, to no one’s surprise, his insulated package colonies took off faster than those in his regular hive boxes. So, he developed an insulating technique using a polycarbonate foam sprayed on the inside of his boxes, moving them from a R-0.75 value to an R-6 value. The walls are about 1.75” thick, and the box is about 10% heavier than his old boxes, but the behavior changes he saw were pretty conclusive. But how to monitor?

So, he began adding devices built into the hive itself. The floor became a both a scale that would transmit weight changes to your cell phone or computer, and a heating device, that can heat the internal temperature of the hive to about 103F to kill varroa but not bees. Temperature and CO2 are monitored, plus there’s a GPS device, an accelerometer to tell if the hive is moving, and an organic compound sensing device that will tell you what’s coming into the hive that maybe shouldn’t be coming into your hive. And all of this is powered by 2 solar panels on the roof.

The boxes interlock with busses, therefore the monitoring is maintained no matter how high the tower gets, so all the boxes are talking to each other. There are two doors on the front that can be automatically opened and closed, and the built-in queen excluder also contains both the temperature and humidity monitors so you can see exactly what’s going on right in the brood nest.

The cover with its two solar panels sits on top and is 3 inches thick for maximum insulation, plus there are some ventilation ports that can be adjusted. The frames inside are just the same you have now, but there is no inner cover.

All these devices talk to each other, the data is plotted on your computer, and activities and changes are noted. So that this hive, by measuring all these variables, learns and can tell what will be in the future because of what it can measure now. Machine learning will be the next beekeeper. The future is here, now.

Listen to Mike explain the HyperHyve in this episode of Beekeeping Today Podcast!

Links and websites mentioned in this podcast:

 

Honey Bee Obscura

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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! 

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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

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Transcript

S2, E52 – Hive Type Series, Part 5 of 5: HyperHyve with Mike James

 

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 supplement 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 in Butte, Montana, or from distribution depots across the continent. Visit them today at www.globalpatties.com.

Jeff: Hey, everybody, thanks for joining us. You know each week we get to talk about how much we appreciate our sponsors' support. They help make all of this happen and give us the ability to bring you each episode. With that, thanks to Bee Culture Magazine for continuing their presenting sponsorship of 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 the sponsor of this episode. 2 Million Blossoms is a quarterly magazine dedicated to protecting all pollinators.

Learn more in our season two, episode nine podcast with editor Kirsten Traynor and from visiting www.2millionblossoms.com, and that is with a number 2. Also, while you're out there, check out her new podcast 2 Million Blossoms - The Podcast, also available on the website or from wherever you download and listen to your podcast. All right, everybody, today we finish our five-part series on hive types other than the standard Langstroth. That's a long sentence! Today, we talk with Mike James of Hyper Hyve and the future, what we think might be the future of hives going forward. Kim, what do you think? This ought to be a good one.

Kim: Well, it's going to be good for a couple of reasons because one of the things that he does is he's taken a look at a regular cavity that bees would choose, a hollow tree, and he duplicates that in terms of insulation and all of those things, but then he adds the future to it. He takes all of these gadgets and adds them into the-- and then has those gadgets talk to your computer or your cellphone, and then it chronicles the data that it collects. It's machine learning as he puts it. Once it knows that when this and this and this happens, you can bet that your colony is going to do this. It's going to tell you that before it happens. This is way cool.

Jeff: Absolutely, it is. We wanted to end the series on something of where the direction was going because I think early on we pointed out that the hive really hasn't changed much since 1850-something rather with a Langstroth hive. All the variants that we've talked about in the series has been some variation of the Langstroth hive, but not much change. The Hyper Hyve, we thought, might be a good example of where it's all going, and so I'm excited to listen to Mike and what he has to give us here in this interview coming up.

Kim: Right, I am too.

Jeff: Also, we know we've received a couple of letters and e-mails from folks saying what about the Warré hive? What about this hive or different hive types? Obviously, we weren't able to get everybody up here. [chuckles] Funny, we did try to find someone in North America who had good experience with the Warré hive and were unsuccessful. Maybe if our listeners out there has that experience, let us know, reach out to us at questions@beekeepingtodaypodcast.com. We would like to hear from you and have you on in a future episode to talk a little bit about them.

Kim: I can give you a hint, though, Jeff. The next book that I've got coming out called Common Sense Natural Beekeeping I did with a co-author who found somebody in the UK and interviewed them for that, talking about managing a Warré hive. You may want to look there come this summer when the book comes out.

Jeff: Yes. Speaking of books, Kim, what have you pulled off your bookshelf this week?

Kim: [laughs] I've got a pile of books here you wouldn't believe. I got one on swarming, and I've got one on-- A new beginner's book by Charlotte Wiggins, A Beekeeper's Diary. I've got a kids' book that I thought was really good. Can I tell you about it?

Jeff: Yes. Just a real quick one since you brought it up, we'll be talking to Charlotte Wiggins here in a couple of episodes. I'm glad you mentioned that book.

Kim: I wanted to get ahead of the curve with her on that. That's why I've got it sitting here. This kids' book is incredible. It's called The Secret Life of Bees. I'm just going to read. I wrote a review for it that will be in Bee Culture, but I'm just going to read you parts of the review here to give you a feel for how good this book is. The author is Moira Butterfield, and the illustrator is Vivian Mineker. The author is straightforward, no holds barred, good beekeeping facts. The illustrator is out of this world. The pictures in this book are-- and the layout and design.

There's only 48 pages, but on those 48 pages, every two-page spread is essentially a chapter. The two pages work together on every one of these. I'll just read a little bit here. The hero of the book is a bee called Buzzwing. What you're going to do is follow Buzzwing, the honey bee, on an unforgettable journey as she reveals all of the secrets of this busy buzzing world. This delightful children's book has 22 stories that are each a two-page spread or maybe they could be chapters if you want to look at it that way. Each of these tell 22 different things about the secret life of bees.

It begins with Buzzwing being born. In two pages, the photos or the drawings follow her life from an egg to a larvae, to a worker bee who does hive things to being a guard, to finally being a forager. It shows all the life stages. They're just easy to follow, and they're fun to look at. One of the things that they do in each one of these chapters, at the bottom of the second page, they always ask, can you find the two little rabbits hiding somewhere on this page or the lizard, or the two mice. If you're a parent and you've got a child and you're reading this book together, it gives you an opportunity to be a pair.

It's really done well. There's also a lot of fables in this book because there's The Bee Tale From Greece telling the bees, the poem, how that works.  The Boy Who Ate Sky Honey and a bunch more. They're fables, and you know that they're fables, but they're illustrated well, and they do tell part of the story about what it's like to be a bee. There is more stories, of course. There's about the dance, the dance that bees do. Swarming. The many thousands of other kinds of bees. What animals steal honey besides beekeepers, of course?

It does talk about beekeepers, and what they do, and why bees and beekeepers get along or don't get along fairly well. It finishes with a page on how to be a honey bee's friend, and you should grow flowers, make seed bombs, leave sticks and scrap wood in a small pile in the garden for the bees who use that way to live, and certainly, don't pick the flowers. Buzzwing closes by saying, "Bees make the world a sweeter place so plant for us, grow the seeds, the plants, and the trees, and we'll give you back a world of flowers and some golden honey."

It's a great book, Jeff. If you've got kids that are, I'm going to say, between just pre-kindergarten to probably about third or fourth grade, this is a great way to talk about bees because the art is stunning and the information is excellent.

Jeff: It sounds wonderful. It really does. I have some nieces and grandnieces and grandnephews that'd be really a target audience for this book.

Kim: There you go. Yes.

Jeff: Real quickly, Kim. Honey Bee Obscura is booming right along. What have you and Jim, too, been talking about in the latest episodes?

Kim: I don't know if you listen to night television at all. Stephen Colbert has a way of doing interviews sometimes that I enjoy his style. He'll start an interview apples are oranges, that's the question. Jim and I took that style, and we adapted it to some of the things, foundation, plastic or wax? Why? We've already done one. We're going to do several more on both of us being asked those kinds of questions and both of us having to answer those kinds of questions. We cheated a little bit because I told Jim what the question was going to be and he told me what the question was going to be about 10 minutes before we did this.

You don't have a lot of time to think. It's off the cuff. It was fun to do. I think you'll enjoy them.

Jeff: Well, good, I look forward to hearing them. Everybody that Kim and Jim have the Honey Bee Obscura Podcast www.honeybeeobscura.com. We encourage you to go out and give them a listen, their short-format podcast 15 minutes max. A great thing to listen to as you are getting ready in the morning and you'd be done with it before you're done and heading out the door.

Kim: Good advice.

Jim: All right. Well, let's get ready for our interview with Mike James of Hyper Hyve, but first a quick word from our friends at Strong Microbials.

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Jeff: While you're there, signup with Strong Microbials' newsletter, The Hive to receive exclusive offers and sales information. Welcome back, everybody. Sitting across the virtual table is Mike James, CEO of Hyper Hyve. Welcome, James to the Beekeeping Today Podcast.

Mike James: Hi guys.

Kim: Hey Mike. Good to meet you.

Mike: Nice to meet you too.

Jeff: We've been talking in the last couple of weeks now on different hive types anything other than the Langstroth. We picked hives that were fairly much anything you could buy from a local supplier or they were plans to build yourself. We were intrigued by your Hyper Hyve and I understand it's going to be released this spring yet but it's really the direction-- I think it's really exciting because it's where the industry is going with the technology and our understanding of bees. That's why we've asked you to come and wrap up the series is the future of beehives in the year 2021.

Mike: Well, I appreciate the opportunity to come on. I'm a long-time listener and honored to be invited to talk about it.

Jeff: Good. I'm glad you're here.

Mike: The Hyper Hyve really jumped out of nowhere for us. It started in a backyard and I think a lot of beekeepers started with one or two hives, and from the sustainable building world with a background in some home automation stuff. As a tinker, just started to see that there really wasn't a current solution or at least a one-stop-shop solution to beehives and technology within the industry currently. I started looking at a couple of studies where they had compared insulated hives with uninsulated hives. The insulated hives appeared to perform better.

There wasn't a really extensive study of science so we thought we'd just try it out. Right after that, we noticed that the-- We started with package bees, really took out faster than our standard uninsulated Langstroth hives which really got us scratching our heads. As a technology guy myself, I really wanted to integrate some way of being able to monitor what was actually going on in the hive. There's some third-party products out there. We toyed around with some of those. One thing led to another and Hyper Hyve just slowly started to form itself to the point where I ended filing application for patent.

Right now it's a provisional patent on integrated monitoring within the hive itself. We've been testing over the last year or so. I've been building some minimum viable products and we are to a point now where we think we're going to be able to hit a large production number with the-- We're calling it the HHPRO 1 or PRO V1, as the data model.

Kim: I know you're in Wisconsin so an insulated hive makes a lot of sense for half the year but you're seeing differences in the spring and summer with an insulated hive?

Mike: Yes. There's two studies that I found where they were showing even in the summer like in Arizona, as you guys know, the bees are constantly heating and cooling the hive and when they're doing that, they not performing other duties. Some side-by-side comparison showed that the insulator hive just moderated that temperature change quite nicely. The way looked at it was, bees have evolved to survive in a treehouse. Trees traditionally, you look at an oak tree for instance, and the trees that they choose are normally six inches or thicker.

For each inch of wood, you have about one hour value of insulation within that tree. If you look at a 3/4 inch pine box which is your hive, you've only got a 0.75 or-- Even though in the wintertime obviously, like you say it's most beneficial. In the summertime, there's some added value as well because the bees are on an HVAC duty all the time.

Kim: HVAC [laughs]

Mike: There's only a few bees actually performing that task while the others could be doing grooming activity, forging, and so on and so forth.

Kim: Well, there's styrofoam hives out there now and I've used them over the years. The only downside that I've seen with those is the fact that they're big and bulky. If you don't have three bricks on top of them they'll blow away because there's no weight there. I guess what I want to say is, how is yours insulated?

Mike: The extra shell is going to be like a poly cabinet which is a fiberglass-type plastic. There's sprayed foam within the interior and another plastic shell on the inside. It does have a little bit more weight, I don't know the numbers exactly off the top of my head, but they are about 10% to 15% heavier than your traditional Langstroth 3/4 inch pine.

Kim: Okay.

Mike: They're not horrible, but the dimensions definitely are bigger. It works out to be a little bit over inch 3/4 total wall thickness.

Kim: Wow.

Mike: Yes. It adds that R-6 value which is really close to a tree hollow that bees would choose as a home.

Kim: You're saying your monitoring-- You've got some sort of thermal reading device and it's sending a message somewhere. How does that work?

Mike: Having that insulation is really beneficial in regards to the monitoring. Just like our house were able to run conduits and pipes and wires throughout the house, well, having an insulated hive now provides us all this room to put technology within the hive itself. Some of the sensors that are going to be on the hive itself is weight, internal temp and humidity, external temp and humidity which also were called to a local weather station and can pull remote data too. Originally we were looking at potentially not providing an external temp and humidity because we can pull some of that information from local weather stations.

However, it doesn't show us the potential microclimates that each hive is experiencing. Some could self-facing, some could be in the woods so on and so forth. The data that it's reeling back to us might not necessarily be accurate in regards to what's really going on in that hive or at that hive location. We'll have a CO2 sensor in it. There's going to be a volatile organic compound sensor. We're not really doing anything with that currently but it will be in the hive. There's a GPS unit, accelerometer. Some of them also, we're toying with this now, we're not really sure if it's going to come out in the first model but it's going to be entrance control through actuators.

We'll be able to open and close the hive remotely. All this is powered on the roof solar panels with a solar charger. It communicates through a cellular modem that we partnered with Verizon on.

Kim: Wow.

Mike: That's a mouthful. It's a huge mouthful [laughs].

Kim: It's coming to my cell phone or my computer at home.

Mike: Correct.

Kim: It's continuous or I have to call it up?

Mike: Based off of the battery charge, it could report by the minute or 10 minutes. Then that gets stored on a database and then you pull that information from a database when you log in.

Jeff: Very nice.

Kim: Interesting.

Jeff: You need to add a video camera to the front.

[laughter]

Mike: Ironically, that was the first thing that I did. I don't know if you're familiar with this or not, but Lego has a robot tinkering set, and they've got-

Jeff: Do you mean actually the Lego, the toy that you step on?

Mike: Yes. I'm not sponsored by them, I swear. It's got a little camera that you can tie into, I want to say it's like Lego Storm or something, that doesn't really matter. The camera is called a Pixie Man. What I did was I took this Pixie Man, taped him onto the front of a paint stir stick, and then I hauled my computer out there and I trained the Pixie Man to be able to track bees coming and going, like the machine learning that you see on some of the smart cars, but by no ways am I comparing myself to those engineers.

[laughter]

Mike: The problem that I ran into was the power demand and the functionality on whether having this camera on it actually made sense because I think that we can get some of those metrics through the weight and through some of the temperatures. We were originally going to use it for swarming alert and to be able to count bees because we thought it'd be cool to go, "Oh, 250,000 bees left today and 248,000 came back." In practice, it didn't make as much sense to keep. It was a cool thing to look at and see, but I quickly scratched it off of the plan.

Kim: You've got a solar panel on the roof, correct?

Mike: Correct.

Kim: Is this whole hive one box or can I add boxes to it?

Mike: You can add boxes. Within the walls, as we have a bus system that communicates with each device based off of ID. When we build the box, we give those devices IDs. As you stack it, the hive knows what's on it. It can determine, as you're checking weight, you can go, "Okay, there's a honey super around. Now we know how much that honey super weighs, we can deduct this." It's not like you just caught half of the swarm bu through that bus system, as you can lift it off exactly like you would lift a standard Langstroth hive apart.

The patent design, the system interlocks, because as you know a Langstroth box, it's nearly impossible unless you're like my dad and line these things up just perfectly. They're almost impossible to line up. What I did was I designed the interlocking system where part of the internals come up and the outside shell actually goes over it. As you set them on, and I think you can see, we've got a drawing on our website that shows you that a little bit of how that interlocking system works, because I think it's an expanded view.

Then what it does is it connects through four pins, and those four pins then do all the magic between the boxes.

Jeff: That's a standard, like a MAC address, essentially, from a network standpoint?

Mike: Yes, or like a node ID. In the communication that we use it's through I2C or I²C. Each board, when they come out, come with an ID, and we can change those as well. I don't remember, it's in binary, so it's some ridiculous amount of serial numbers.

[music]

Sponsor: 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 catalogs to their supportive beekeeper educational activities, including this podcast, Betterbee truly lives up to their tagline of beekeepers serving beekeepers. See for yourself at betterbee.com.

[music]

Kim: I got to tell you, we've been talking to the people at the JPL lab that sent the machine to Mars and they took a piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers' plane and put it on that helicopter that they sent up as a neat thing to do. We've been going back and forth with them. You sound just like the guys at JPL. [laughs]

Mike: I am no way. I could never work there. They're way smarter than I am.

Kim: That reminds me of Lyft all of these things. I wanted to ask you, you've got something called hyperthermia treatment that comes with this. Tell me about that.

Mike: When we came up with the name Hyper Hyve, I didn't even know what hypothermia treatment was, didn't even know it existed. It just happened to be happenstance that I stumbled upon, I think it was, once again, a study. I spend all night long in my bed before I fall asleep, I'm just reading study after study. I'm sure my wife is just confused how I'm so entertained by them. I saw this hypothermia and started looking into it a little bit. I don't know necessarily whether we will be providing it, to be honest, there's a lot of testing that we have to do.

The hive is going to be set up that we have the ability to plug in what's called a- we're calling it a hypothermia board. On the base of the hive, there's pretty much a screen bottom board so you can slide out that tray out of the back. What we would be able to do is similar to the batteries that you see on these drones, you just snap them in there. You would ultimately have a bigger battery because the hive doesn't really use a ton of power. What it can do is it can act as a switch. You'd plug in this hyperthermia board, you'd plug a couple of leads into the back of the hive itself, you'd go through onto your app or log in through the website.

What you do is say, "I want to run a hypothermia treatment tomorrow." What it would do is that it'd heat up the box to approximately 105 degrees Fahrenheit for three hours. At those temperatures and at that duration, I think it's a 96% efficacy of mite control. The downfall is, it potentially could damage the queen's sperm bank, which is obviously a major issue if that's what's going on. That's why we're not releasing it quite yet. We still have to do a little bit more work on our end to make sure that that's not happening, and if it is, determine whether or not it makes sense to recommend beekeepers cage their queen overnight.

I guess first, one of the cons to it is, is it messes up some of the foragers' sucrose responsiveness. When the bees are out there foraging, they're not going to necessarily be going after the premium nectar. The benefit is, is that those bees will live longer. In the study that I read, the swap made a net-zero difference. They were able to bring in more nectar versus their ability to bring in the premium nectar if you will. I probably went into that a little bit more than I should have, but it's something that's on our radar because mites are obviously a problem.

The industry seems to be, and I'm really surprised by this, I guess there's kind of a gamut. You've got these heavy treatment folks that use chemicals and organic compounds, which I'm not necessarily saying I'm against, and then you've got the ones that just set it and forget it, and then the people in the middle. I found it to be interesting conversations regarding treatment of mites.

Kim: There is a unit on the market, I believe, that basically utilizes this treatment. Heat treatment for, you said three hours, that sounds about right up to a certain temperature and you get a significant drop. I haven't heard much about it. It's not heavily promoted that I'm aware of. It sounds like it might be something to chase eventually anyway.

Mike: Yes. You may be thinking of the same one, but the one that I'm thinking of, it's a big box that you have to haul out to the field, which has its own issues. Then you're disassembling the hive and then putting each frame in there. It's just a lot of steps. I think if hypothermia is going to make a splash, it needs to be easy. One of the additional features to the hive that I didn't mention is that all the sections have gaskets on them, so the hive sits down on itself and actually seals itself up. Which gives us the ability to then use a lower wattage heating device to provide that hyperthermia treatment effectively.

Kim: I can see that if it's insulated and it's sealed it would be much more efficient, maybe even a shorter time. That makes perfect sense. I'm curious on the monitoring that you're doing, why are you measuring CO2 and these other components in the hive? What can you do with the information once you've gathered it?

Mike: Everything's data points. The way that I saw it was the more data we can have the better. CO2 is a measurement that we take so that we can benchmark it against other data points and then cross-reference it to actual activity. When I started building the code for this, I started writing it in one code language, one that I knew quite a bit-- Well, not quite a bit, but I knew how to code in that language. I quickly realized that as this thing developed on its own, you might say organically developed, I quickly recognized that machine learning was going to be the key to the hive’s success.

It's great that if we can log in and we can see weight increases or decreases, what the temperature did, what it didn't but if you don't know how those relate to what's going on in the hive, it's just a pretty graph. Using machine learning to take those data points will eventually make the hive just smarter and smarter and smarter. Throughout the activity on the app or logging in, one of the things that we'll be doing is asking the beekeeper what necessarily has been happening with that hive. Just like hive tracks of the world, you're keeping tabs on what's going on in the hive so that you can trigger future maintenance events and so on.

As they're doing that in the Hyper Hyve app, we'll be able to cross-reference data points historically. The machine learning will just eventually take in that data, figure out what happened, and start creating more or less heat maps within the program, and so future events become more and more accurate to predict. We're hoping that three years, four years down the road, the hive is 10 times smarter than it was when someone initially bought it because we're able to cross-reference data to similar conditions in similar geographical locations with specific bee breeds.

That's where my head starts to hurt because I'm thinking, someone's got a hive in Brazil. Someone's got in Sylvania. Someone has one in Arizona. Someone has one in British Columbia. Those metrics are going potentially and likely mean a totally different output for that hive and what's happening and so that's where the machine learning comes into play. We can say, "Okay, with this general GPS location, we can predict the weather climate." Then based on that weather climate, through the app you've said, "Well, we installed Carniolan bees in this hive. We can expect that a certain activity based off of the Carniolans' behavior, what does it mean?"

Hopefully, at some point, we're going to be able to alert people right on their phone and say, "Your hive is about to swarm."

Kim: That's where I'm going. Is your hive going to call you up and say, "Given this, this, this, and this, you're going to need to do this in the next 15 minutes?"

Mike: We're hoping.

[laughter]

Jeff: Does each Hyper Hyve come with its own master beekeeper certificate?

Mike: No, it doesn’t. I wouldn't even know what that's like. I'm just a rookie. The data doesn't lie. That's where even myself as a "rookie beekeeper" sometimes I struggle with going-- I'm a smart guy. I know for the most part, what's going on with the bees, but there's sometimes where I'm just like, "How did I miss this? They're gone."

[laughter]

By then it’s too late. The way we see it is, there's another $130, $150 you have to invest again back into your hive because the bees swarmed, or time and we know what's your time worth.

Jeff: Let's go back real quickly to the beginning or to the Hyper Hyve sitting there in the yard. Can you describe it from bottom to top what it looks like, the components of it? You don't need to go in great detail, but what are we looking at?

Mike: On the base itself, that is where the scale is. Then there are going to be two entrances that are split, and then that's where the actuators will go. The reason we have two slots is so that you can put a divider board within the hive and split the hive into two nukes if you wanted. Then on top of that, you'll have your brood box one or two, or three, whatever your management strategy is. Then you'll be able to snap into the inside, a queen excluder, and then the queen excluder itself will have the temperature sensor in it, or the temperature and humidity.

That's where we can get that sensor right over the center of the hive versus on like a wall, which is pretty important. The supers as they go up, they don't really contain anything other than that bus. Then you've got the roof that sits on top of that. Currently, we don't have an inner cover, because there's a-- it’s not really a duct, but we call it a ducting system within the installation of the top cover. Then there's a little adjustable vent on the front of the hive where you can open or close it, depending on how much airflow you'd like in and out of there. That'll be the first model.

We're talking about potentially adding some brains to that ducting so that you don't have to manually open or close it. The hive can do it for you if you like.

Kim: Is this a telescoping outer cover?

Mike: It's not. It does the interlocking similar to all the boxes. You find approximately about three inches of roof that interlocks right onto the top of a super or the brood box, if you're in that situation. Then there's -- it's a sloped roof with aluminum composite, then is sloped with a ridge cap on it. Then the solar panels are glued or fixed, I should say, onto both sides of that aluminum composite.

Kim: When people go to your website, there's a link on your website, I think off the top of the page, it says, "What is the Hyper Hyve?" When you click on that, you come up with a drawing. Now I understand what I'm looking at. I'm looking at the bottom and then I'm looking at the top. Is that correct? Do you know the drawing I'm referring to?

Mike: Yes. That's it. That's the CAD drawing.

Kim: I'm looking at the top, which goes on the top of the hive, no matter how many brood boxes and honey supers are below it. Then the bottom is the scale and the double entrance and all of the other machinery that goes with the bottom. Well, now I know what it looks like. I was confused when I first looked at it, but when you see it now, you'll recognize it when you take a look. You're looking at the bottom and the top and none of the boxes in between.

Mike: We tried to keep it not as close. Obviously, the Langstroth inspired it. We made some updates primarily with the interlocking and then there's no telescoping cover. You're still going to have the ability to feed bees if you do it with a bucket or a frame. Obviously, a frame feeder would probably be the easiest way to feed the bees.

Kim: All my frames from my other hives are going to fit, I can interchange them? It will. Good.

Mike: Correct.

Jeff: It's a 10-frame?

Mike: 10-frame. Yes. We're thinking of potentially doing an 8, but it's going to be 10 probably for the first year anyways.

Kim: Most old people would have appreciated eight.

Mike: I know. I knew you'd say that.

[laughter]

Kim: I guess I can live with 10 that's this smart. I’m impressed.

Jeff: Another question is on the joint to the overlapping sections between supers, how hard is that going to be to separate those?

Mike: One of the things that we saw is because it's gasketed, we don't see as much propolis filled up. However, on the backs, fronts, and the sides, you still have direct access into the hive like you normally would, other than there's a gasket in there. You wouldn't want to jam your tool in there. The gaskets offset introduce so you could stick your tool in there, give it a turn and it'll pop it.

Jeff: Last question, because it's topical to these days, the interior wall of the Hyper Hyve, is it roughed up, so they collect propolis, for the natural beekeeper-minded person?

Mike: It's not as roughed up as a natural beekeeper would like but it does have a rougher structure. These are some of the things that we've talked about and thought through. We're potentially going to be adding another device that we could put into it or coat the inside of the hive for those people but currently, we won't, first product won't have that.

Kim: You said the first edition won't have that, when will the first edition be ready?

Kim: We're looking to launch the Kickstarter campaign here the end of May and we're hoping to get hives on trucks July and so it really depends on how well the Kickstarter goes, but we're dedicated to getting product to the people that want it this summer.

Jeff: We'll have the links to your website in the show notes and if all goes, according to plan your plans and our plans, this should be coming out about the same time as the Kickstarter's launched. I encourage anybody who’s interested in the Hyper Hyve or learning more to go out to your website first and then if you're interested in jumping on the Kickstarter, definitely check on that date.

Mike: On the website, we're offering for anyone that signs up for the newsletter, which will give all the information on the Kickstarter launch, you can also sign up for some additional benefits. I think right now we're offering lifetime of free monitoring for the hive itself, which is pretty big deal because we're looking at a monthly access fee for the app after that.

Jeff: The million-dollar question is, what is the projected price or price range for a Hyper Hyve?

Mike: I've never really answered this question but we are shooting for somewhere between $800 and $950 per unit, and that'll come with the base and a brood box and a honey super, and then the roof and then all of the tech within it.

Kim: All that's going to be on the webpage, right, Jeff?

Jeff: Yes, you bet, not the pricing of course, but yes, we'll have links to Mike's Hyper Hyve on our website and maybe a picture or two, but obviously the source for the latest information would be the Hyper Hyve website and that's a hyper H-Y-P-E-R H-Y-V-E.com.

Kim: Mike, have we missed anything? Is there something that you think stands out that we haven't addressed well enough?

Mike: I don't think so. It's the system is engineered and this is the salesman part of me, but we feel that based off of survival, these honey-yield potential increase with the insulated hive that the actual cost of ownership is actually very low compared to a traditional hive, primarily because of those reasons. We've modeled out, I think it's a three-year difference between some of the more popular brands and standard equipment. We feel pretty good about where it's at and we think it adds a great benefit to beekeepers that are wanting to add a little bit of tech into their hives.

Kim: You reduce winter losses and summer losses and swarming, and very rapidly, you can see that it begins to pay for itself.

Mike: Correct.

Kim: Mike, this has been fun. I'm looking for my trial copy. All right?

[laughter]

Mike: I'll send the first ones your way.

Jeff: Very good.

Kim: Anything else, Jeff?

Jeff: No, I'm good. I'm looking forward to the launch. I'm looking forward to hearing about the Hyper Hyve and having you back on a future show to tell us how it's going.

Kim: Yes, that would be good.

Mike: Sounds great.

Jeff: Thanks a lot, Mike, for joining us.

Kim: Thanks Mike, it was fun.

Mike: Yes, thank you. I enjoyed it. Thank you.

Jeff: This has been one fun series and to end it on the Hyper Hyve is a good thing.

Kim: Yes, I think so. It took us the whole trip from something like the top bar hive, which is fairly basic. I'm not going to say primitive, but certainly really basic to something that I'm pretty sure is going to go to the moon someday soon. I'm impressed with it. I'm impressed when people who have those sorts of skills apply them to something as fundamental as keeping bees and how much better it could make keeping bees. I like to hope that all of these people that we've talked to over the years that have electronics in their hive, it's going to make keeping bees better for us.

Jeff: The geeky part of me really is intrigued by the technology. You know me well enough to know that, but the other part of me just likes going out and then just looking at the hive and not even thinking about technology. I'm still a little schizophrenic on the idea, but yes, overall, though, sitting here, when I'm working it's to call up a window and go out to a website and see how the hive is doing. Oh yes, the temperature's right at the brood level and so I know the queen's laying and everyone's healthy at least 21 days ago or something.

Kim: It's nice to be in the world when this is happening.

Jeff: Yes, it is. There's helicopters flying on Mars and you're sitting, your Hyper Hyve's going to be calling you to tell you it's time to change the papers or something.

Kim: That's okay. I can deal with that.

Jeff: Yes, me too. 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 or wherever you download and stream the show. Your vote really does help other beekeepers find us quicker. Even better, write a review and let other beekeepers looking for a new podcast know what you liked. 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 also want to thank Strong Microbials for their support of the podcast. Check out their probiotic line at www.strongmicrobials.com. We want to think Betterbee our latest sponsor, check out all their beekeeping supplies at www.betterbee.com, and finally, and most importantly, and I really mean that 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 questions at beekeepingtodaypodcast.com. We'd love to hear from you. Kim, anything else?

Kim: No. Jeff, I think that about wraps it up. I like the thing about questions. Send us your questions.

Jeff: We're getting them and we read every one and we try to reply to everyone. May not be timely, but we try to get back to you. Thanks a lot, everybody.

Kim: Take it easy.

[00:47:57] [END OF AUDIO]

Mike James

CEO - HyperHyve, Beekeeper

Mike James is the inventor and CEO/founder of Hyper Hyve, a smart beehive with patent pending integrated monitoring within an insulated beehive. Hyper Hyve is designed to help beekeepers stay more informed and assist the beekeeper with a better beehive that utilizes machine learning and artificial intelligence. Helping alert the beekeeper remotely of what is going on within the hive, or predicting what is about to happen based on millions of data points of information.

With the launch of the beehives in the early Summer 2021. The hives will allow beekeepers to remotely log into each hive via a cellular network practically anywhere in the world and see the status of their hive(s). With machine learning as the backbone of the hives, the Hyper Hyve will become smarter as more data points are gathered, allowing your hive(s) to become more accurate and smarter as the colonies progress, and telling you what actions are necessary to keep the bees healthier and happier.

As a USA based company, Hyper Hyve provides not only hives worldwide, but also its soon to launch app for keeping track of your traditional hives as well as each of your Hyper Hyves.