Internet of Things (IoT) application in Stingless Bee Hive Monitoring >>> Live Telemetry Data!!!

Temperature

Humidity

Bee counter


   

Introduction

Stingless bees or Meliponines (sometime called as stingless honey bee) are a large group of bees and usually nest in hollow trunks, tree branches or rock crevices. They are active the whole years (but will less active during cooler weather) and store pollen and honey in large egg-shaped pots (comb) made of beeswax, typically mixed with various types of plant resin. They can not sting but will defend by biting if their nest is disturbed. In Africa, stingless bees are diverse and are farmed there too. Stingless bee’s honey is prized as medicine in many Africa communities.
In Malaysia, small and medium enterprises (SME) have sprung up over the past years that are vying to cultivate stingless bee for honey. Bee farmers extracted wild colonies nesting in the tree trunks before they attached the tree trunk with a nest box (topping) on the top of the tree trunks that channeled directly to the main hive. A stingless honey bee hive has a funnel shape entrance and was found to be different according to the genus. Farmers will extract the honey from the combs manually by using a small and a long plastic tube hosed into a portable battery powered suction pump. 

Meliponines are lesser known than honeybees (apis) but they are actually better pollinators
Meliponines are lesser known than honeybees (apis) but they are actually better pollinators [http://bilutvalleybeefarm.blogspot.my/2016/05/magical-meliponine-honey.html]


Shape of the entrance of the stingless bees’ nest. A - Funnel shape entrance of T. itama; B – Round ringed entrance of T. itama; C - Entrance in shape of mount (T. thoracica), D - Funnel shape entrance of  T. terminata [N. Kelly, M. Farisya, T. Kumara, and P. Marcela, "TROPICAL AGRICULTURAL SCIENCE," Pertanika J. Trop. Agric. Sci, vol. 37, pp. 293-298, 2014.]

Motivation and Challenges

Studies on stingless bee includes the foraging activities pattern, pollinations factors and effects, the influence of the environment on the stingless bees at cellular level, beekeeping and bee rearing techniques, and quality of propolis and honey production. They all contribute to the development and progress of stingless bee research in Malaysia.

In a recent study, which involved Trigona Itama subspecies, the foragers of stingless bee outgoing from the hives and incoming to the hives were very active during morning period (0800-1100). However, in the mid-day (1200 hour) the outgoing foragers and incoming foragers declined and became slower in the late afternoon mainly to conserve their energy. Information from this study is important in order to understand the survival determinant and dispersal adaptation of the stingless bees for future honey production and crop pollination success. However, the current findings and similar are difficult to be validated because:
1. Direct human observation and intervention which can be viewed as too subjective and time consuming. Human health and safety are at risk if overnight observation is considered.
2. Some of the study resorted to ostentatious techniques such as using baits.
3. The time span of study normally limited and irregular due to weather which could miss some important data.

For a particular bee hive, the amount of incoming and outgoing bee can be estimated by using non-intrusive sensors such as infrared transmitter and receiver so that the activity rates can be measured. Besides, basic temperature-humidity sensor to monitor the temperature and humidity can possibly be placed inside the bee hive. Barometric pressure and temperature sensor can be used to measure the climate condition outside the bee hive. All sensors will be integrated with a microcontroller and a Wi-Fi module which send the data wirelessly to IoT cloud platform where the data will be continuously saved, monitored, and can be retrieved anytime. The same system can be replicated and expanded to other hives creating a network of online monitoring of many stingless bee hives.

With the availability of internet and online at all time. Low-cost smart sensor node development enabled devices to be connected easily and corresponding information can be accessible globally. In this project, we proposed an efficient method for understanding the impact of climate to stingless bee activities using IoT applications. In spite all the fact have studied the conditions of stingless bee, the theory to describe the behavior of the stingless bee combined it with the population size and the amount of honey productions is still not carried out in a systematic manner. Furthermore, all determined climate parameters, activity rates, population size, and honey productions values will be a set of reference to determine the heath level of the stingless honey bee population and opportunity for human intervention to identify the actual problem and solve it.


Description of the System

In this project, a study and analysis of the climate impact on stingless bee (Trigona Itama) through internet of thing (IOT) application is proposed. For a particular bee hive, the amount of departing and arriving bee was estimated by using non-intrusive sensors of infrared transmitter and receiver. Basic temperature-humidity sensor to monitor the temperature and humidity was placed inside the bee hive.  All sensors were integrated with a microcontroller and a Wi-Fi module which send the data wirelessly to IoT cloud platform where the data was continuously saved, monitored, and can be retrieved anytime. The same system can be replicated and expanded to other hives creating a network of online monitoring of many stingless bee hives. To account for the health condition of the bee colony, perception on the wellness functions of the stingless bee under the monitoring environment is interpreted from the results which displayed on the graphs.

The system in this project can estimate the amount of bee enter or exit from the entrance by using two sets of infrared transmitter and receiver sensors to monitor the activities of the bees. The non-intrusive sensor's funnel was designed using 3-D printer. Figure below shows a SolidWork illustration of the funnel. These sensors are placed in arrays in the middle of the entry funnel which attached to the entrance of the stingless bees’ nest. The schematic diagram of bee counter is shown below. An algorithm was developed to determine to amount of bee coming in and out form the bee hives. 

 DHT11 basic temperature-humidity sensor is used to monitor the temperature and humidity inside the containment box (topping). It is integrated with Arduino microcontroller and send the data to "Thingspeak"s database. Thus, the humidity, temperature and bee counts can be recorded and displayed on the graphs published through "Thingspeak". 

Extension funnel drawn using SolidWorks 

Schematic diagram circuit of bee counters

     
Bee nest entrance before and after the bee counter extension funnel is attached



A DHT11 basic temperature-humidity sensor is used to measure the temperature and humidity inside the bee hive which integrated with Arduino (microcontroller). Arduino sends the data to Thingspeaks (an IoT third party gateway provider) via ESP8266 Wi-Fi Module and Wifi router. 

Arduino and ESP8266 Control Device with ThingSpeak (IoT) [http://microcontrollerkits.blogspot.my/2015/05/arduino-esp8266-iot-control-thingspeak.html]

The ESP8266 WiFi Module is a self contained SOC with integrated TCP/IP protocol stack that can give any microcontroller access to WiFi network. The ESP8266 is capable of either hosting an application or offloading all Wi-Fi networking functions from another application processor. Each ESP8266 module comes pre-programmed with an AT command set firmware, meaning, can be easily connected to Arduino. The ESP8266 module is an extremely cost effective board with a huge, and ever growing, community. This module has a powerful enough on-board processing and storage capability that allows it to be integrated with the sensors and other application specific devices through its GPIOs with minimal development up-front and minimal loading during runtime. Its high degree of on-chip integration allows for minimal external circuitry, including the front-end module, is designed to occupy minimal PCB area. The ESP8266 supports APSD for VoIP applications and Bluetooth co-existance interfaces, it contains a self-calibrated RF allowing it to work under all operating conditions, and requires no external RF parts.

 

DHTT sensor inside the topping and on the corner, covered with polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) film (commonly used for sealing pipe thread)

  
Left picture: back view of the system and log. Right picture: front view of the system

Micro-controller and WiFi module inside system box

Results
ThingSpeak is an IoT analytics platform service that allows aggregation, visualization, and analysis of live data streams in the cloud. ThingSpeak provides instant visualizations of data posted by devices to ThingSpeak. ThingSpeak’s widgets allows website integration which display the temperature, humidity, and bee counter on graphs as shown below.


Temperature


Humidity

Bee counter



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