Sentinel Apiary Project

Sentinal Infographic

We are breaking ground in modern beekeeping. The stage is set and like most big problems, collaboration is key. Beekeeper associations throughout Maryland have completed their first year as participants for the Sentinel Apiary program and now we are opening participation to groups from across the country. As a Sentinel Apiary participant, you will get the tools and information you need to take your beekeeping group to the next level. By doing so you become a guardian of all bees in your region and together we will revolutionize beekeeping.

Applications are now available for 2016 and we are seeking beekeeping groups that manage 8 or more stationary colonies. We will arm you with data from Disease Load Monitoring and a Hive Scale so you may combat the challenges of beekeeping. To aid in this effort we’ve acquired funding to subsidize $300 toward the cost of a hive scale purchased for your beekeeping group. Join the science team that is helping beekeepers across the country!

Sign up for Sentinel Apiaries

Sentinel Apiaries monitor honey bee health in real-time using hive scales to track colony weight gain or loss, and monthly disease assessments of Varroa and Nosema pathogen loads. The scale data is automatically transmitted to our servers and the patterns of nectar flow mapped.

The goal is to collect enough information so that Sentinel Apiaries become an early warning system and we can alert beekeepers of potential problems due to increases in disease or changes in hive weight that could be indicators of colony health. The Sentinel Apiaries will allow us to develop data driven best management practices for beekeepers in real time, improving honey bee health for all beekeepers.

The Bee Informed Partnership has finished the pilot year of the program in the state of Maryland and is ready to launch nationwide. Through this initiative, we will be able to use your beekeeping club’s in-field data to launch the next innovation in Apiary Management. Follow the link below to find out more about our citizen/scientist partnership.

Overview of the Hive Scale Program

This ongoing effort will expand NASA’s original program to show real-time online data from these networked monitoring systems, including the climate, vegetation and nectar flow. In collaboration with Grand Valley State University, we advanced this work to develop BIP’s own Application Programming Interface (API) for scale vendors to integrate into their systems. Eventually, we will provide real-time alerts to the beekeeper to support management decisions (alerting the beekeeper to swarms, thefts, etc.) and to follow nectar flows/dearths that may affect disease and parasite loads.

Below are graphs depicting Varroa monitoring results. In the first graph below we see typical mite loads throughout the season, with numbers relatively close to the national averages but the fall months are above threshold. The second graph below provides similar information but also shows the effectiveness of a particular mite treatment followed by a possible reinfestation in October, which the beekeeper would not have known without Disease Load Monitoring. Both however provide amazingly useful information to the beekeeper about the disease state of their colonies.

Sentinel Hive Graph 1

Varroa per 100 bees between APHIS, all Sentinel Apiary participants, and “Your Apiary.” The red line indicates the threshold of 3 mites per 100 bees. The last 4 months are above the acceptable threshold! These months are critical as colonies are rearing winter bees.


The month of August presents apiary Varroa load following an effective treatment. A spike in Varroa per 100 bees occurred in the month of October resulting from a possible mite reinfestation.

Supported vendors for the Bee Informed Partnership Hive Scale Program:

The Bee Informed Partnership is scale agnostic and we encourage any scale vendor who would like to participate in our database to contact us regarding our BIP Scale API. If your integration with this API is successful, we would be happy to further test the scale and the data connectivity and consider adding your product to BIP’s list of compatible hive scale vendors. Below is a list of hive scales that have been validated by the Sentinel Hive Scale Team to be able to integrate with the API. In each of the links below we have reviewed the scales, highlighting the advantages and disadvantages associated with each product:

The pricing structure for the Hive Scale Program is dependent upon which scale you purchase for your sentinel apiary. The following table highlights the pricing structure when you combine the power of Disease Monitoring for 8 Colonies ($399) for 6 months and at least one supported Hive Scale of your choice.

Solution Bee* Arnia** Bee Watch Pro Cost After Scale Purchase
Cost per Hive Scale $495 $599 $1475
Cost of Disease Monitoring $399 $399 $399 $399
Total Program Cost $894 $998 $1874 $399
Cost with Subsidy $594 $698 $1574 $99

*Discounted price offered by Brushy Mountain only for this program. Email us for the link!
** Special pricing for BIP Sentinel Apiary Program. Additional Sensors (brood temperature, humidity and acoustics) are available for an extra $149. Arnia Hive Scales require an $5 per month subscription but automatically upload data, can be monitored remotely, and have the option for additional sensors.

Participate in the Sentinel Apiary Project

If you are a beekeeping association or an individual beekeeper who is interested in joining our Sentinel Apiary Program, please click the “Sign Up” button below and we will get in touch with you to provide more details about the Sentinel Hives.

Sign up for Sentinel Apiaries