Sentinel Apiary Program

With the help of beekeepers all over the country, we have successfully completed our second year of the Sentinel Apiary Program! In 2016, 28 beekeepers from 16 states worked with us (see our blog post discussing the 2016 Summary Report or the Original 2016 Summary Report PDF Here). Together we:

  • Sampled and monitored the heath of 289 colonies
  • Processed 1,229 samples for Varroa and Nosema
  • Shared data from 32 hive scales
  • Collaborated with our beekeeping neighbors to improve colony health in our regions!

The 2017 Sentinel Apiary Program is now up and running. We have 70 participants in 26 states across the US! You can see their hive scales data with the interactive map below, and click this button to view their Varroa data map on our research portal.

Click This Button to View Our Varroa Map



Interactive Hive Scale Map

Overview of the Sentinel Apiary Program

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 loads. The scale data is automatically transmitted to our servers and the patterns of nectar flow are mapped.

The goal is to collect enough information so that Sentinel Apiaries become an early warning system to alert beekeepers of potential problems due to increases in Varroa/Nosema or changes in hive weight. One Sentinel Apiary in a county can thus empower all beekeepers in that area to take early action to protect their colonies. Our public map of Varroa levels by county can be viewed here. Our public map of Hive Scale data can be viewed here.

Below are examples of graphs from monthly Varroa monitoring reports. In the first graph, we see typical mite loads throughout the season, with numbers peaking in August and then dropping after a successful treatment in September. The second graph below provides similar information but shows a possible reinfestation in September, which the beekeeper would not have known without Disease Load Monitoring. Both provide amazingly useful information to the beekeeper about the disease state of their colonies.

Varroa per 100 bees between APHIS and a Sentinel Beekeeper. The red line indicates the treatment threshold of 3 mites per 100 bees. An effective treatment occurred in September.

An effective treatment took place in August, followed by mite populations soaring to an even higher spike in September. This is likely the result of re-infestation by a nearby apiary.

Supported hive scale vendors for the Sentinel Apiary Program:

Below is a list of hive scales that have been validated by the Sentinel Hive Scale Team (deemed Bee Informed Ready™) to be able to integrate with BIP. 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 Sentinel Apiary Program is dependent upon which scale you purchase and the number of colonies you wish to sample. We highly recommend sampling 8 colonies to provide the most robust data; however, if 8 are not available, we offer a 4 colony plan. The baseline cost to participate in the program is $500 for 8 colonies over 6 months, or $275 for 4 colonies over 6 months plus the cost of whichever hive scale you choose. Please contact us for more detailed information about pricing.

The Bee Informed Ready logo indicates that a scale manufacturer has allowed our team to evaluate a scale’s functionality (including setup, integration with the BIP API, transfer of data, accuracy), long-term (usually a month) performance and robustness in a working apiary. Once the scale has been vetted and any critical issues resolved, BIP will add the vendor and product information to the list of vendors on the BIP website. The vendor will also be provided with the “BIP Ready” branding kit and guidelines for use in their promotional activities.

Participate in the Sentinel Apiary Project

We will begin recruiting for the 2018 Season in February. With data collected from Disease Load Monitoring and a Hive Scale, you will get the tools and information you need to take your beekeeping to the next level. You will be able to make more informed management decisions, as well as share information with beekeepers in your region to encourage collaborative colony monitoring and management.

If you are interested in participating next year, click the Sign Up button and we will contact you in the spring!

Sign up for Sentinel Apiaries