Introduction: Iphone Apidictor for Acoustal Beehive Swarm Detection

Picture of Iphone Apidictor for Acoustal Beehive Swarm Detection

I've always been fascinated by colony insects.... need good quote here...

I came across an article about Eddie Woods and his acoustical swarm detection machine, the Apidictor.  There are tons of beehives in my community and I wanted to get involved so I studied Eddie's work and applied an iphone app. to its end. Swarms are a means of bee's reproduction but they drive bee keepers nuts.

Eddie described a 'hiss' and a 'warble' occurring at different frequencies. The hiss occurs above 3,000hz after knocking the hive with an open hand. The warble occurs at around 250hz and is an indicator of hive problems.

Eddie associated a sharp hiss as a happy hive and associated the warble with a non-laying queen and/or a hive that maybe preparing to swarm. More info in step 3.

Using the iphone app n-track and a $5 mic from office depot I was able to filter the audio to required frequency band and listen for the sound indicators.

I worked with James Moore on his iphone App. dedicated to predicting SWARMS! -


Step 1: Hardware

Picture of Hardware

The iphone application is n-track that was $3.99 but you may be able to find something similar for free.

I used a $5 maxell mic from office depot.

The benefit of using n-track is it allows real-time filtering... You set the frequency filters you're interested in and start listening in lieu of recording the sounds and then downloading them to a computer.  The application is not the easiest to use and a bee keeper could benefit from an iphone specific application. How cool would that be!

James Moore took this task on and created a specific iphone app with the filters included. -

Step 2: Background & Results

Picture of Background & Results
Eddie Woods lived and studied in England. This article by Rex Boys details his invention and theories

Eddie described a 'hiss' and a 'warble' occurring at different frequencies. The hiss occurs above 3,000hz after knocking the hive with an open hand. The warble occurs at around 250hz and is an indicator of hive problems. Eddie associated a sharp hiss as a happy hive that had a laying queen and was not preparing to swarm.  Eddie associated the warble with a non-laying queen.  This could mean the queen is dead or the hive is preparing to swarm. There is a lot of interesting information in the article by Rex Boys.

I was able to record two different hives in the above 3,000 hz range and the knocks were followed by a nice audible hiss in most cases. Out of about 9 knocks I would get 3-4 strong hisses and more hisses could be detected after further sound amplification on the PC using the free software Audacity (its awesome).  This makes sense as it is still winter here in Portland, Oregon and there should not be any preparations for swarming.  I also recorded to hives in the 250 hz frequency and did not hear any warbling. There was a low drone. I'm looking forward to hearing some warbling as we move into spring in summer.

Here are some additional links:
Eddie Woods work by Rex Boys... what a cool guy.
The description on how to build the original Apidictor
Here is another guy who is interested in building an Apidictor
The Bee Hacker (got to love that title) has a nice summary of acoustical bee behaviors.
Original Apidictor patent


finton (author)2017-05-26

Interesting concept, hydronics! I'll have to try it out during the spring build up later this year.

Here are some colony insect quotes:

lesT (author)2013-05-28

Great stuff!!...but anything for Android users??

Zeezrom (author)lesT2013-07-27

or Windows Phone users? Is it that much trouble making this Swarmy app to work on Android and Windows phones? Get with it Swarmy.

turbobug (author)2012-03-07

Wow thats interesting ! I have three hives currently and did witness a swarm an thought i could hear a change in the general sound but didn't know what i was listening for. I will have to investigate this. My thoughts about sound experments last year was in the buzz durning the winter. Last winter I would listen to the hive to hear the buzz and see if they were still alive. Thinking that If i had an array of directional microphones on the top pointed down I could map the cluster and determne the size, and also when they came out of the cluster. This could also be done with tempeture recordings. I have noticed that this year was not as cold as last year and the buzz was not as loud (or I'm going deaf I will ask the next check up)

aytacgul has come up with a tempeture and humidity loger that might be of use.

Also check out my honey extractor

hydronics (author)turbobug2012-03-08

Yea that's pretty interesting... The 'warble' and 'hiss' detection may provide you with an indication of the hives death if it is a result of the queen's death as it will definitely tell you if the queen is dead according to Eddie's work...

This is all book knowledge for me as I'm a newbie...

The bees will travel up the hive over the winter, right, following the honey reserves, so one problem with using mics to assess the size of the hive is depending on where you put the mic, it may be recording proximity as opposed to size.... well just a thought...

Temperature may also change dramatically depending on where the sensor is located... That said, temperature sensors are cheap so with ~5 sensors you should be able to cover the two 'deeps', right? For that matter you could use ~5 condenser mics too... They're even cheaper than type K thermocouples...

I'd like to see a video of your extractor. If you get a chance to make one this summer that would be super fun to watch.. it makes me hungry just looking at the pictures.

About This Instructable




Bio: just have to figure out how all these things go together....
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