This has been an idea that I've been tossing around for a couple of years, and that's setting up my own "bee cam" system. Not a bee cam inside the hives, but one that focuses on the outside of the hives so you can watch the bees come and go. There used to be one that broadcast from somewhere in California, and as long as there was daylight, you could watch the bees flying in and out all day long. But something happened and the cam went offline and eventually disappeared. But it planted the idea that if I was so amused by the bee cam that others surely must have been as well.
So I started doing a little digging to find out how easy (or difficult) it would be to set up my own bee cam. And while the cost of camera equipment and software has dropped significantly over the last few years, it can still get pretty complicated to set up a system that will broadcast over the Internet. It seems that the toughest part of the endeavor would be to connect the system to the 'net. Many of the outdoor cameras are wireless so that would eliminate running cable from my house to the bee hives. And many of them broadcast a signal for hundreds of feet to reach the indoor receiver. But even though they send a wireless signal, they need electricity to operate, and I have no electricity near my hives. One solution would be to set up a solar battery system that would power the camera, but that will drive up the cost by several hundred more dollars. Anyway around it, it is not going to be cheap.
A friend who works with computer systems is doing some research to see what kind of camera and system would be the best for the circumstances. I already have a computer I can dedicate for the web stream, so it would come down to buying a camera and putting together all the connections to make it work. And I have another friend who installs security systems, including cameras, so I want to see what he can offer to make this a reality. Sounds easy, but so far it has been a task to figure it all out.
While this seems like a fun project and could really become popular (someone even suggested I could possibly sell advertisements to help pay for it) it all boils down to how complicated it could become. And of course, the money factor too. While I would love to do it, like many other beekeepers, I operate on a small budget and don't have piles of money lying around. I already know that if it is going to cost a small fortunate, and it just might, I'll just have to scrap it.
So what do you think about such a project? What do you see as the pros and cons of such an endeavor? Would it be worth it? Suggestions to make it work?