Bees, while occasionally annoying and/or painful if you’re not careful, are essential to our environment. This, of course, means pollinating plants for food, so who keep the little buggers are providing an important service beyond their direct product of delicious honey. To keep an eye on hive health, beekeeper Thomas Hudson has come up with the Easy Bee Counter that's positioned in front of a hive's entrance.
Compatible with the opening of standard hives, the counter is assembled by stacking its dual PCBs on top of each other. Between the two, a series of six-pin female headers form 24 “bee gates” that the winged creatures have to pass through to access their home. A couple of IR LED/photodiode pairs are positioned on the top PCB, looking down to pick up the presence of a bee, as well as whether it's leaving or coming home.
Data is recorded with the help of six shift registers, and the setup accommodates both Adafruit Feather and ItsyBitsy format modules. This makes it possible to add WiFi, Bluetooth, and even LoRa connectivity for . data analysis. Beekeepers can use these readings to study movements, correlating them with a colony's productivity.
Code and PCB files are available on GitHub if you’d like to take your beekeeping game up several notches!