We applied to the Earthwise Fund support the plan to develop an effective natural method to control varroa mite in beehives, by temperature control, in order to prevent the ongoing colony losses from this parasite. We wanted to set up monitoring and create temperature-controlled beehives to compare them with non-temperature-controlled hives. There are 3 hive locations at school. In addition, for both setups, we intend to install laser counters at the entrances to measure the difference in bee activities, monitoring increase or decrease in worker bee activities. The Earthwise funding was for: Solar heat transfer controller, heat pads, fans, solar panels, and a laser detector. Varroa mite count will be conducted for all hives on a fortnightly basis, dependent on weather conditions. The icing sugar method will be used.

What we have achieved so far is we have set up temperature probs in the 2 school beehives. This is helping us to better understand the temperature trends in the hives and show us where and how regulation of temperature through heating and cooling mechanisms would be most helpful. By using wifi and the Cayenne site for remote control, we are easily able to monitor the hives and then graph the data.

The next step for this project is developing the temperature regulating “device” and possibly working to having an automated system where is works with the rise and fall of the hive temperature. All of the colony monitoring and setting up was carried out by students and was very hands-on. I feel this project helps towards a more sustainable future by helping better understand hive dynamics and better improving the hive health for more successful and productive colonies.

As pollinators like bees are key members of our environment and ecosystem, and by improving their wellbeing, there are many positive benefits.

Lorin Symons, student, Opunake High School