Track Honeybees With Temperature




Data analysis coming soon!

My school is kind of strange. We don't have a cafeteria, but we do have a four week course on "The Simpsons." We don't have a jungle-gym on the elementary playground, but we do have a half-buried firetruck. We don't have a football team, but we do have a bee-keeping club. It's pretty awesome.

This year I decided to do some cool experiments with honey bees. This project uses 12 temperature probes placed throughout a beehive to track the movement of honey bees over the course of several weeks. The project is completely solar powered, weatherproof, and can log months of data onto a 1GB memory card. I wouldn't have been able to build this without the parts supplied by the bee keeping club.

Parts you'll need (in no particular order): TOTAL: $328.65 + Shipping (if you're getting everything new)

Here's the code I wrote for this project. Much of it was modified from existing Arduino SD card examples.

The parts for the SD card may have to change a little depending on what shield and Arduino you use. Because I used a Mega here, I had to do a bit of a work around to get the SD shield to work without modifying it, so it could probably be simplified a bit further.

Step 1: Mount the Cable Glands

First, I measured and drilled holes for the 13 cable glands. Cable glands allow for a cable to pass through an enclosure while remaining waterproof. I put 5 glands on each side with two on the front for the temperature probes, and one on the back for power.

The outermost cable glands had a nut on the inside that ran into one of the box's support posts. I just cut off part of the outside of the nut to make it fit – it shouldn’t compromise the seal too badly, and the box should survive splashes from the rain just fine (hopefully this thing won’t end up entirely underwater!).

Step 2: Wire the Temperature Probes

Next I began wiring up the buses that will power all the temperature probes. I had some extra screw-terminal blocks around, so I put them all in a row and soldered the leads together to make two buses: one for 5v, one for ground.

There should only be white (signal) wires left from the temperature probes. I insulated the bottom of the terminal blocks with electrical tape so they don’t short out with each other.

Next I wired each signal wire to the SD card shield. Pictured is a Sparkfun SD card shield. In the parts list I linked to an Adafruit shield, as that’s what I recommend buying (and what I ended up actually using). The Sparkfun shield was a huge pain. Don’t use it. The Adafruit shield also has a RTC (real time clock) module built in, so we can timestamp our data points more accurately, even after power gets cut out. I highly recommend it.

Because these temperature probes work on the digital, one-wire bus system (where each probe has a unique address), all of the signal wires get tied together and brought to a single digital pin on the Arduino. I chose to use pin 3.

Then I used a 4.7K pull up resistor on the signal wires, tying them to the 5v supply on the Arduino. I also connected the power busses to 5v and ground at this time. Now you can slap your Arduino on there!

Step 3: Figuring Out Power

Next I began the wiring for the power supply. This was really simple. After soldering the large capacitor onto the charging circuit (leaving lots of extra lead so that it could save space by bending the capacitor over), I connected the charger’s load output to the boost converter, and the 6V charger input to the solar panel. I also extended the solar panel’s wires; this ensures that when we bring the box out to the hive we can place the solar panel somewhere with as much sunlight as possible.

Next, I connected the power out from the USB connection on the boost converter to the DC in jack on the Arduino. Make sure to add a power switch so you don’t have to disconnect the solar panel whenever you want to program the Arduino.

I placed all of the power circuitry in an anti-static bag to avoid any short circuits.

Step 4: Programming

Go ahead and open the Arduino environment, and put the attached .ino file onto your Arduino.

As I mentioned before, you’ll see an Arduino Mega pictured, but this was unnecessarily powerful for this application. In fact, a lower power chip would probably be superior. If you end up connecting more sensors, however, a Mega might be useful.

It’s done!

This was a pretty fun, straightforward project. I will make a post on my website soon with some analysis of the data we collect from the hive. It should be pretty interesting!



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    5 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 3

    Did you know that putting thew power circuit in an anti-static bag is actually more likely to cause shorts? Yes, really: anti-static bags are designed to protect a circuit from being damaged by having undesired electric potential between points, and they do this by being electrically conductive. If a device is powered up while in an anti-static bag, there is an extremely high risk that some of the terminals will short, and possibly cause damage to the system. Even if not, it will create a huge power leak, and is never a good idea. See this question on the electrical engineering stack exchange for more info.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Great Instructable!!! Another input for your project would be Pinhole mini cams at each sensor location to view, the activity of the bees vs. temperature. Keep up the good work!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! I'm working on it right now, and will make a blog post with more details soon. Basically, I'll insert two probes in between each frame. There will be some really cool data analysis coming from this project.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, and as for pictures, we're going out to the hive in a couple weeks -- I'll try to post some then.