Counting bees entering/leaving a colony
David Buggs from United States  [2 posts]
8 years
We are interested in real time scanning and counting of bees as they cross the threshold entering or leaving the hive.  I've read about counts taken on static images, is there the potential for using it with a real time image?

e.g. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BhilX-NpmQ

We could certainly paint the entrance to provide necessary contrast as well as change the angle to take video from above, etc.
Anonymous 8 years

Yes, this is possible but would require a bit of a setup. Namely, you'd have to channel the bees into individual columns as they enter/exit the hive with a transparent roof and white floor with walls between them to isolate a single bee at a time. The camera would then be above this structure and could watch them crawling along to count them.

Alternatively, another way to do this is at


which seems to be a good solution and require less setup than a vision based system ... although arguably IR sensors are a form of vision!

Techdetect from United States  [28 posts] 8 years
Dr. Buggs,
Are you concerned about the same bees entering and leaving without leaving thier payload.  Bees are busy and they come and go from the hive very eratically. You could get false counts by the same bee leaving and coming within a short time.  I have seen where certain bees were painted on the back with different colors and then tracked by time and location of where they went.  This was used to determine if bees would tell other bees where to go for a food source.  What is the purpose to count the bees when you could track where they are going.  Are you looking to find where your bees are disappearing too?  Maybe you could use miro numbers and paste them or even use recognition with a very HS camera to count and time them coming and going. More info would help or maybe i am thinking too hard.  poof, there goes the smoke...  Darn..  HOPE IT HELPS  BZZZZZ
David Buggs from United States  [2 posts] 8 years
Bees frequently enter the hive only to shuck the honey and pollen they have collected before exiting again for another trip.  We understand that behavior, we are interested in the numbers entering and leaving the hive over time.  Eventually we will install cameras in the hive to observe the dance a bee does that tells others within the hive where rich food sources exist.  But for now we'd like to understand what numbers of bees may take heed when one of their sisters passes on that information.  We may also gain some information about the distance from the hive by the time differential between large numbers of bees leaving and subsequently returning to the hive.  We have considered marking the bees in some way but at this point we don't want to be that intrusive.
Our interest is to use a camera, or series of cameras or sensors arranged either horizontally or vertically across the entrance in an attempt to count the bees and to determine their direction of travel, in or out of the hive.
It is the image recognition, directional identification, and counting from a video stream (our first choice) that we are looking for suggestions or guidance on...  From my original thread you can see that bees move relatively slow when entering the hive across the threshold as opposed to the speeds they reach when flying.
Anonymous 8 years

In terms of vision, the previous description is probably the best way to go. Have a clear plastic with dividers below as the hive entry/exit corridor to force the bees into single columns. Then an overhead camera would be able to track their movement either exiting or entering. This solution combines both hardware (the bee corridor) and software (tracking bees) in a good way. Without the defined exit/entry point the bees are ontop of each other which would cause issues in terms of counting and knowledge of direction. Isolating them to as close as possible to one bee at a time will vastly improve the results.

You should try to use light colors as the walls, based, etc. of this doorway as that will help to segment the bees nicely. Clear acrylic ontop with white acrylic as the base/walls should do it. If you need help in construction of this we may be able to offer some people to help out.

If you're interested in that direction post some photos here of what the camera sees looking down on this device with bees in it and we can continue from there.


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