Beekeepers have been trying to weigh their colonies since the invention of the movable hive, and those who keep records are endlessly fascinated by the fluctuations in hive weight during the year, especially the rapid increases during a nectar flow. Stories abound of hives gaining hundreds of pounds per week in some areas, something we never see from the outside looking in.
From a practical point of view, keeping track of your hives weight lets you know when your bees have enough stores for winter, when brood rearing is in full swing, and when a nectar flow has begun. A rapid decrease in weight might alert you that a nectar dearth is underway, a swarm has issued from your colony, or robbers have invaded. A slow decrease may mean your colony has stopped storing honey and begun eating it. Whatever the case, the information gives you a heads up that something is changing inside your hive.
Until recently, finding a good scale was hit or miss. Ive seen all kinds of rusted hulks picked up at garage sales or company liquidations that beekeepers have hauled home and used to measure their hives. Some look rickety, like old bathroom scales, and some appear massive enough to weigh your car or even your blue-ribbon sow. Surely, there had to be a better way to weigh.
Luckily, Rich Morris and the BroodMinder team have been working tirelessly to design a simple to use, lightweight, purpose-built hive scale that sends the data wirelessly to your phone. The new scale, called BroodMinder-W, is the first scale I can actually visualize myself usingone that isnt impossibly ugly and finicky, and doesnt require chains, hoists, or a fork lift to set up.
Image courtesy of honeybeesuite.com