Building a Humidity Chamber

Right now we’re experiencing an extreme heat wave in Maryland. The rising temperatures combined with high humidity would make beekeeping pretty miserable in this weather. So for all of the folks tending their hives this week, be careful! Andrew and I are taking advantage of being trapped inside (thank you, AC!) and are using this opportunity to get the GigaPan up and running again. After numerous phone calls to tech support in CA and playing with wires the rig is now ready for action.

The GigaPan is a camera mounted on a robotic rig that is designed to take multiple pictures of a frame and combine them to make one, extremely detailed high-resolution image. Here’s an example of the type of images it can capture. If you would like to learn more about the GigaPan and what it does, check out Jennie Stitzinger’s blog.

Gigapan Our project this fall is to capture bee development from egg to emergence. Our goal is to find a frame with a majority of newly laid eggs, remove it from the hive and take images with the GigaPan. We will then repeat this every day until emergence. Doing so will allow us to create a time-lapse video of brood development. As you can imagine this type of video would be very educational to beekeepers and entomologists alike—a chance to see into the hive.

One major problem that we’re trying to fix is brood death. In the past, we’ve had issues with keeping brood alive. We believe that this may be due to the frame being removed from the hive too long and the daily change from a humid environment in the hive to a dry environment in the lab. To amend this, we’re shortening the capture time from close to an hour to around 20 minutes and Andrew and I are building our own humidity chamber around the GigaPan rig.

We took a trip to the local Home Depot and bought all of the supplies we thought we might need: sheets of ¾” thick styrofoam, duct tape, and a utility knife. Instead of having to buy a humidifier we actually found one on the free table (a table at the end of the hall where everyone puts junk they don’t want and magically it disappears) in our department. Yay for free stuff!









We have to build the Styrofoam box big enough so the GigaPan rig can fit inside with the humidifier which is a little tricky considering the location of the rig. So far, we have figured out that 1) duct tape doesn’t stick to regular styrofoam, 2) using styrofoam is extremely messy, as the lab floor is now covered in little styrofoam balls and 3) that we need to start over.


Attempt #1







We were very disappointed it didn’t work out on the first try, but we now have a new plan. Instead of using regular styrofoam we obtained styrofoam board which has a smooth surface and is easier to handle. We’ve started building the walls of the chamber with the new material and already I can tell that we’re going to succeed this time. The new board looks much better, duct tape sticks to it, and well…it’s pink! What’s not to love?


Stay tuned for Part 2 to see the completed humidity chamber and an update on the brood progression project. Until then, stay cool everyone!




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