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Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies 172

Lemeowski writes "Honeybees are disappearing at an alarming rate, with a third of U.S. honeybees vanishing last year. Since bees pollinate many fruits and vegetables, the disappearance of honeybees could cause the United States to lose $15 billion worth of crops, and even change the American diet. The honey bee disappearance is called Colony Collapse Disorder, a serious problem of bees abruptly leaving their hives. A new open source effort called the Open Source Beehives project hopes to help by creating "a mesh network of data-generating honey bee colonies for local, national, and international study of the causes and effects of Colony Collapse Disorder." Collaborators have created two beehive designs that can be downloaded for free and milled using a CNC machine, then filled with sensors to track bee colony health."
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Open Source Beehives Designed To Help Save Honeybee Colonies

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  • by timkb4cq ( 761046 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:19PM (#45666065)
    While commercial beekeepers have been having trouble with their bees, here in Florida we've had more wild bees than ever before. They're building hives in residential areas - in attics, in backyard trees, under manufactured homes, in walls of abandoned homes, etc. Commercial beekeepers don't want these bees because it's more expensive to test them to determine whether they are "Africanized" than to buy new, so they are usually killed by exterminators. If bees were truly as threatened as the headlines claim, wouldn't at least some beekeepers be collecting these hives instead of homeowners having to pay hundreds of dollars to have them killed?
  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:43PM (#45666301) Journal

    Why does no one ever give the full story about bees? There's only one species of bee suffering from colony collapse disorder(CCD) and that's been going on and written about since the 1800's so it's not a new thing.

    While most of the colony collapse disorders affected the European Bumble Bees, other bees are also affected.

    The culprit is the MITES, specifically the Varroa Mites []

    There is NO WAY to kill those mites without harming the bees, and the mites can evolve much faster than the bees, making them effectively immune to whatever chemical concoction that we use to kill them, while the bees can't cope with the same chemicals (when we use it inside the beehives)

    Even the Asian bees, which groom themselves much thoroughly than the European Bumble Bees, are also affected by the goddamn mites !

  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @08:44PM (#45666307)

    I work for a university in central Illinois that does a large amount of bee related research. (Full disclosure: I'm not one of the researchers. I do the repair work on their instruments from vacuum pumps to mass specs. The guy in the shop across the street does even more work for those groups. We get to talk to them a lot about their work, and bees are an interest of mine. see below for the reasons.)

    Though there is thought that the neonicotinoids may be related, it's probably not the whole story. (see: [] and [] for some insight by two of our researchers). Most of the ones I've talked to think it's a combination of factors.

    Agriculture here uses large amounts of the neonicotinoids, and the bee declines started before they were being used.

    Just from my own observations (I kept bees along with my dad when I was a kid), the declines in bee population were happening here in Illinois long before the neonicotinoids were fielded. I was amazed at the drop in the numbers of wild bees here in the early nineties. The stress of varroa mites was likely a big part of that. Some other diseases are thought to have been involved as well.

    The EU has largely restricted the neonicotinoids so we should have some comparison data in a few years.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @10:49PM (#45667169)

    Problem is CCD happens on organic farms and in countries where neonicotinoids are banned. In Australia, and large parts of Canada where these insecticides are widely used they DON'T have CCD.

    The fact of the matter is that this is a witch hunt, and lots of innocents are being burnt on no reliable evidence.

    But what the heck. Science be damned we KNOW it's the fault of some greedy company somewhere.

  • by ApplePy ( 2703131 ) on Wednesday December 11, 2013 @11:04PM (#45667235)

    "Killer" or Africanized honeybees are not as big a problem as the mass media made them out to be. The solution turns out to be rather interesting.

    Africanized bees like different dimensions in their hives -- smaller boxes, less space between frames. They're angry in European-sized bee equipment, but give them homes they're comfortable with, and their "killer" behavior goes away. Colonies of Africanized bees can be re-queened with gentler European queens, too.

    In Brazil, the Africanized bee is considered to have been re-domesticated this way, and it's only a matter of time before it's the case everywhere.

  • (Score:5, Interesting)

    by village fool ( 2046524 ) on Thursday December 12, 2013 @06:55AM (#45669053)
    Folks, check out and We've been putting sensors in hives for about three years - have about 15 on-line in the southeast US and California. We desperately need DBAs and programmers to help with some of the software tools. I work for a commercial beekeeper in the southeast US. We run about 2000 hives. Last fall we had our first experience with colony collapse. A brief description can bee seen at When you troubleshoot a system that was working, whether it's hardware or software, the first thing you do is undo the last thing you did. In this case it could be the introduction of Neonicitinoids. The EU has banned them for a few years. This is similar legislation in the US: The save the American Pollinators Act of 2013, HR 2692 This is a real problem that is starting to affect the food supply - seen the the price of almonds this year? And yes, we probably have seen this before in the late 1800s- only it was called Disappearing Disease or Dwindling Off. Guess what insecticide was used then?

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI