Sentinel Apiary Program

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With the help of beekeepers all over the country, we have successfully completed our third year of the Sentinel Apiary Program! It was our biggest year yet by far. In 2017, 68 beekeepers from 26 states worked with us (see the 2017 Summary Report PDF Here). Together we:

  • Sampled and monitored the heath of 473 colonies
  • Processed 2,157 samples for Varroa and Nosema
  • Shared data from over 80 hive scales
  • Engaged in valuable conversations with beekeepers across the country about problems in
    the beekeeping world, and how we can work on them as a community

We are now recruiting for the 2018 Sentinel Apiary Program! We hope you will join us on a journey to better colony heath and cooperative colony management. Scroll down to learn more about the Program, or click the “Sign Up” Button below and we’ll reach out to you.


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Overview of the Sentinel Apiary Program

Sentinel Apiaries monitor honey bee health in real-time using monthly disease assessments of Varroa and Nosema loads. 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.


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.


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, and using a hive scale to provide the most robust data; however, hive scales are optional this year and if 8 colonies are not available, we offer a 4 colony plan. The baseline cost to participate in the program is $499 for 8 colonies over 6 months, or $275 for 4 colonies over 6 months plus the cost of a BIP supported hive scale if you choose to buy one. Please contact us for more detailed information about pricing.

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 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.

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