Thursday, May 17, 2012

To bee (cam) or not to bee (cam)? That is the question!

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?

Comments please!


  1. great idea! how cool would it be at work to take a mental cigarette break and watch bees for a few minutes. you have probably seen the blogs with advertisements along the sidebar. perhaps if you ran this by some of the bigger bee gear suppliers, they might nibble.

  2. I would love to sit at work with a glass of wine and watch the bees. I could ALMOST pretend I was home :)
    What about setting up an observation hive and putting the camera on that? So COOL!!
    I personally plan on winning on the lottery to pay for all of my plans...

  3. Hey Bethany and SuburbanRancher: Thanks for the comments! I agree that it would be great to just take a break and enjoy watching bees. The only thing missing would be feeling the warm sun and the smell of the hives, but even Yankee Candle Company may have a scent for that. Adverts could be a definite possibility and I do have friends who are in the graphic arts business who could help out with that. And as far as winning the lottery, I'm with you there! I've already got plans for the big cash, and like everyone else always says when they win, I plan to keep working. You do believe that? Right? :) -Mark

  4. I think it would be a great idea, actually. But I do worry about the cost for you.

    I do have my own hives, so I'm curious why I like the idea. I think it would be unique and intriguing. And yeah, putting ads might be a way to mitigate the cost.

  5. Great idea! Hope you can get it to work out. I'd tune in... As for now, when I can'y get out to the beeyard, I do it the old fashioned way...Sit in the bedroom window with a pair of binoculars! Thinking maybe schools would find this worth while, too and may want to get involved??

  6. .... a year since the original post

    Any conclusion?

    Probably have to trail a power lead out to the hive then surely any camera (eg LOFTEK® Nexus 543 Outdoor Wireless) would do?



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