Bee Counter

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Why a bee counter? While a scale can reveal nectar flows, orientation flight and the general health of the hive, it doesn't answer all the questions. In discussing fall die off with Dr. Wayne Esaias, he suggested that to really see what was going on, a bee counter was needed.

Optical Bee Counters

The earliest reference to a bee counter that could be found is the article Bee Counter by G. A. Cozens in Everyday Electronics, May, 1972.

Another early reference, A bee counter for monitoring bee activity and bee behaviour summarizing work done by G.A. Buckley, L.G. Davies and D.T. Spindley is found in the Proceedings of the British Pharmacological Society, 13th-15th September, 1978.

In July, 2003, Bromenshenk, Seccomb, Rice and Etter filed Patent Number 6,910,941 Honey Bee Monitoring System for Monitoring Bee Colonies in a Hive (assigned to University of Montana).

On October 14th, 2012 Version 2 of the Instructables: Honey Bee Counter by hydronics was released.

Commercial Products

Bee Alert Technology

Visual Bee Counter

R&D into a visual bee counter using inexpensive USB cameras and openCV has begun, thanks to Dr. Esiaes' suggestion, Blair's introduction to OpenCV(Open Source Computer Vision Library) and to the Intel Research Pittsburgh's paper Video Monitoring of Honey Bee Colonies at the Hive Entrance, by Campbell, Mummert, and Sukthankar.


Design a bee counter using low cost off-the-shelf hardware. Replicate and improve the techniques outlined in Video Monitoring of Honey Bee Colonies at the Hive Entrance, by Campbell, Mummert, and Sukthankar. Optimize the hardware design (camera, enclosure, etc) to simplify the software so that it will run on low power platforms with improved accuracy.


  1. Develop camera enclosure and mounting. Some early camera enclosures.
  2. Master video technology. Encode, compress, stream and record video at the hive entrance.
  3. Create test suite of videos.
  4. Code Bee counter software.


Initial tests were conducted using these cameras:

  1. Logitech 2500
  2. Logitech C310
  3. Logitech HD920

Need automatic light level control (auto iris). Don't really need auto focus.

Infrared (night time) Operation


  1. adaptive back-ground subtraction using a background model derived from a running average of the most recent 300 video frames.
    1. How to Use Background Subtraction Methods
    2. Background Subtraction
  2. match an elliptical, graduated template at 16 orientations across each background-subtracted video frame.

<a href=vaib9_mummert.pdf>Video Camera Bee Counter</a> Intel Research Pittsburgh, Video Monitoring of honey Bee Colonies More