Building a Smart Beehive

Beewise logoThe BeeWise project has prototyped a smart beehive for the Pueblo Zoo BeeWise Apiary and hosted three youth summer camps. This post (part 3) is about the research and development that led to the prototype.

The smart hive will be demonstrated at the Pueblo Mini Maker Faire  October 28, 2017, at the STEAM Pueblo booth. We hope to have the project built out into a full kit by early spring so we can implement a few kits at local schools and community spaces in spring of 2018.

Research and Development of the Smart Hive

Phase 1: Identify data collection needs

The first step we took was to address the needs of beehive monitoring and develop efficient data gathering methods. It is important to know the hives humidity and temperature along with weight. This provides information that can be used to schedule feeding cycles or added winterizing. Gathered by analog and digital sensors the hive data can be transmitted by a microprocessor and made available on the web, allowing beekeepers around the clock access to hive stats.

Phase 2: Identify Technologies

Next, we identified technologies and open source Internet of Things (IoT) networks. There are several methods of monitoring and controlling data sources available on the Internet. The most common being .IO sites that connect to devices over the Internet. Some are open source and others have a premium to connect and store data. With a Wi-Fi connection collected hive information can be compared to other hive analytics. This can shed light on colony collapse disorder (CCD) by generating a geographical footprint of hive health.

Phase 3: Prototyping

For the hardware, we conducted Raspberry Pi and Arduino Hardware prototyping and testing with software IoT dashboard connections. We established server connection and communication between devices. This allowed for the best compatibility and user experience. It also supports continued management and modification of the hive data collection processes for future applications.  The final phase of prototyping to test newly integrated technology for the second iteration of the project will be completed in fall of 2017.

Technology Discovery


We have identified specific hardware and software we believe will work nicely for the project, and we will be moving into the final phase of prototyping this fall. We tested several different open source software options including, Cayenne, Ada Fruit (beta), Free Board. Cayenne is the only IO that is working with all the sensors.

Finding the right library for the sensor has proven difficult as we had sensors from a variety of vendors. We have found that we need to obtain more rugged sensors to probe into the hive, or we will need to 3D print some custom cages to protect the sensors. It may be easier to buy a hat for the Raspberry Pi which is basically an expansion board with a bunch of sensors already installed.

Figure 1. Arduino UNO and Spark fun Temperature and Humidity Breadboard test connections

test connection schematic

Figure 2. Raspberry Pi 3B – Temperature and PRI Motion Sensor Breadboard test connection.

raspberry pi test connection

Figure 3. Cayenne Remote Connection Interface

Figure 4. BeeWise hive sensor data viewable in Cayenne

beewise hive sensor data viewable in cayenne

Figure 5. BeeWise Pi – Mobile application display of data from hive sensors

beewise pi mobile application display of hive sensors

We built a beehive sensor super to prototype sensor and microcontroller integration into the hive colony. We need to have proper ventilation for the electrical components without compromising the hive.

Additionally, we identified an expanded lesson potential and cost reduction in the total kit by using a Raspberry Pi weather station.  We need to test if the Pi can handle the sensors for the hive and the sensors for the weather station or if we need an additional Pi to run the weather hat. We need to test is the Pi weather station is as reliable as the Davis Weather Vantage Pro 2 we currently have installed at the zoo in the apiary.

We also took a google earth image of the Apiary for location reference for the weather and sensor data when using the Cayenne IO.

Equipment List

Below is a list of the technology used and tested so far, with a list of options for additional sensor expansions.

Microprocessor: Raspberry Pi 3B Wi-Fi

OS System: Raspberry Pixel Debian Linux 8.0 / Python
Power supply (120 VAC to +5 VDC, 12 VDC to 5 VDC USB converter)
16 GB SD RAM card

Rpi Options:
Pi Sense Hat
Pi Weather Station
Pi Camera

Microcontroller: Arduino Uno USB

Sensors Options:
Temperature/Humidity Sensor(s)
Lux Sensor
Rain Gauge

Load cells
Load Cell Mounts (frame, rails, direct)
Feet or rubber bumpers, metric bolts

Weatherproof enclosure for electronics.
Mounting hardware for boards and sensors.
Power (AC, Battery/Solar)
Internet (Ethernet, WiFi, Cell Phone Hot Spot)

Open source io:

Tech Hardware Resources:

Research Resources:

HiveTool Hard Ware list / open source software –

BeeMonitor The hardware is Arduino / Raspberry Pi and the app is open source –

HACKADAY Article Arduino base – []

Git hub – []

Makezine Article –  they have a list of hardware / hacks []

Special thanks to SparkFun for the prototyping hardware to get this project started!

For more information on the smart beehive, contact Jane Crayton at