Settling In, looking in

A busy day of "project work" today, helping the new beepol hive to settle in. 

One of the main jobs was for me to finally complete the CCTV setup. I've used essentially the same configuration as previously:

video tech: click the image for a fullsize version

The CCTV system is more than mild form of passing entertainment - it has actually become the mainstay of our hive setup, providing the means to monitor the safety/progress of the bees and also provide research data about their behaviour. The main job today was to  fit the "entrance camera" which monitors the entrance and exit holes and is able to trigger motion/detection and recording. The mini camera is also infrared equipped so it can detect any activity at night (e.g. wax moth lurking). I mounted it on a small wooden beam "no more nails-ed" to the side of the bee lodge:

IR entrance cameraIt gives a great view of the entrance holes and in particular, during these early days, will allow us to check whether he bees are able to navigate the "anti-wax-moth" brush system. 

The full lodge setup now looks like this:

beepol lodge technology and camera setupThere are two external cameras (as seen above) plus one inside. A spray painted takeway box glued to the wall provides a convenient junction box, a-la "chocbox" - and protects the CCTV connections. The thermometer has yet to be mounted in the box, but that's something we have to do when we next open the lodge (which will be planned to encompass several jobs, including improving the seal between the base and the lid).

I am still contemplating putting a second camera inside the lodge to get better coverage of activity but for the timebeing we're at the limit of our CCTV system. However, I have also ordered a CCTV switcher from eBay to try. This will enable one of the camera feeds to actually support for cameras on a sequence, effectively extending our system to support 7 cameras. I've gone for the cheapest (simple) switcher for now (<£20) however I did contemplate a full 16 channel processor which would allow all manner of camera splits, picture in picture and motion detect. However since that would then provide for up to 19 cameras into one 4 channel DVR I felt I would soon quickly become frustrated by the mismatch in the system and the inability to record exactly the way I wanted to. So, my decision for now is to see how it goes with the cheap switcher and consider a 16 channel DVR as an upgrade for next year. 

I also tidied up the cabling (currently 5 cameras/cables being run round the garden) and routed some of it through some cheap "pipe foam" (for insulating pipes). This is cheap and easy to work with - though in full course I will install proper trunking. There is not much point switching to wireless cameras because the cameras still need power routed round the garden!

Wax Moth & Infrared

The additional external camera on the lodge further raises the spectre of whether the infrared has the potential to attract wax moth. I've done a little more research on this but there doesn't seem to be readily available conclusive information. The main text discussing how moths are atttracted to light and infrared is a book from 1972! It must be out of print because secondhand copies of it are about £70! Moths are attracted to flames and one theory is males are attracted because the infrared emissions from the flame are like the pheremones from the female. (Can't quite compute how 'light' is equivalent to 'smell', but there you go). 

It doesn't really matter if we attract males, because obviously these will not lay eggs in the bee nest. In general, however, evidence and experience seems to suggest that it's the ultraviolet end of the spectrum that tends to attract the moths (in common with most insects).

However, we don't want to leave anything to chance; so I decided to rig up the extra infrared light I was using indoors (to heat and light Holly's nest) on the garage wall to see whether anything is attracted to it. I also made another two wax moth traps (coke bottle with a hole in it, filled with vinegar, sugar, water and banana peel) to place near the light. Over the coming evenings we'll whether we catch anything.

Entrance Brushes

We are following the beepol advice to add brushes (made from paintbrushes) to the lodge entrance/exit holes. However, we are introducing them slowly by not fully sealing the entrance for the timebeing. The idea is to train the bees to use the entrance holes and get used to the look of the brushes and pushing their way past them whilst slightly ajar, before having to actually push right through them. From what we've seen on the CCTV they are not too keen at pushing through the brush when fully 'closed' (unless we have it too stiff) although we have seen one or two attempt and achieve it. So this is something we will monitor carefully over the coming days. 

We tried to follow the Beepol instructions for making the brushes but found it all a bit messy and that with one piece of tape holding the whole thing together, the bristles would just fall out and it was impossible to get it to a thickness that seemed strong enough to prevent a moth edging its way in. So we came up with a system of multiple layers each taped together. This worked well - possibly too well if we find the bees can't get through it! We'll report back on the final working design.

initial "brush design" for wax moth protection