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Programming Software Hardware Technology

Programmer Creates Bee Counter Using a Raspberry Pi 60

Programmer Mat Kelsey created a bee counter to see exactly how many bees are hanging out in his hives. "His system, which uses a Raspberry Pi and a machine learning algorithm that recognizes the number of individual bees entering a hive, is used to see bee trends over time and see just how the bees are faring," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The system looks at sets of pictures of the hive door taken every 10 seconds. It then extrapolates out the background, assesses the objects that have moved in the frame, and then counts the things that are likely to be bees. It's a fascinating problem to solve since the bees are constantly moving and because it can also ignore bees that are coming out of the hive. You can download the source on Github and check out his detailed blog post here. Given the need for bee protection as we enter an era of colony collapses, tools like this one are wildly important. Plus it's cool to see a Raspberry Pi do something so complex.

Programmer Creates Bee Counter Using a Raspberry Pi

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  • Would this also be able to count people? Be it at a demonstration, in a store or otherwsie.
    That second one could make it possible for smaller or independent stores to use data analysis of how much customers spend where.

    The longer people stay in a store, the more money they spend, as long as you keep them interested. Also possible to verify the best way to get people into your store (doors that are already open is a huge one)

    • It then extrapolates out the background, assesses the objects that have moved in the frame, and then counts the things that are likely to be bees

      Would this also be able to count people?

      Yes but only the people that are likely to be bees. A small-ish subset I would imagine.

    • In fact no, but the main expectation is probably that bees will look like dots in the image, while 'complete customers' will be more complex shapes?

  • by Nova77 ( 613150 )

    Itâ(TM)s Mat Kelcey, no âsâ(TM).

  • Ok, a bee counting algorithm is worth mentioning, but would that be done with a R.pi or a laptop ... not sure.
    • I think all these stories are just marketing. Raspberry Pi is a commercial product. It has many competitors with essentially identical capabilities, some with lower prices. Is Slashdot providing free advertising here, or did they at least get a hefty check under the table?

      Why not just say "Linux based single board computer", or "single board computer", or even "device"?

      This seems similar to Arduino where it suddenly became a fad. I suspect this is due to lots of programmers who just suddenly discovered tha

  • by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Monday June 04, 2018 @05:21AM (#56723540)

    Weigh the hive during the night when all bees are in, weigh it during the day when working bees are out, extrapolate based on weight of a bee and how many bees (as a percentage) are gatherers, which is a known quantity for a hive, on average.

    • Re:Use weight (Score:4, Informative)

      by OolimPhon ( 1120895 ) on Monday June 04, 2018 @05:38AM (#56723580)

      Um, no. You're forgetting all the pollen and nectar the bees are bringing back.

      The hive will weigh more each night than the night before. You also have to allow for the bees that are being eaten or otherwise die away from the hive during the day.

      • Clearly I know nothing about bees :)
        Thank you, I seem to have overlooked a lot of factors.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And don't forget that the majority of bees are not out of the hive. Everyone thinks of the foragers when they think of worker bees. But in actuality, foragers are only a percentage of the older worker bees. So the younger bees (cell cleaners, nurse bees, wax bees, queen attendants) are always in the hive. And of the older worker bees, really only foragers, water carriers and mortuary are outside of the hive (and not all at once). Guard bees, honey sealing, comb building, airflow, propolis, etc. are all insi

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Weight changes constantly with addition/consumption of honey.

      You'd have a hard time spotting the amount of bees from weight alone.

    • So how do you get that percentage? The best way is to kill all the bees and then count them. The result will be fixed and the counting repeatable. And if you want to count live bees, that number is an average of 0 with this method.

      As a sidenote: remember that medical research causes cancer in rats. (Just to show how serious i am)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Training neural networks requires considerable computing power.

    Implementing a trained neural network is utterly trivial, so it is not surprising at all that a RPi is capable of performing this task.

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Monday June 04, 2018 @06:39AM (#56723708)
    Connect a tube to the entrance and count what happens within the tube - way more accurate imo
    • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

      Indeed. Or if thats not practical just a simple video decoder that can recognise blobs moving to the left or to the right. I don't see why machine learning is required for this other than its the IT phrase du jour that garners headlines.

      • a simple video decoder that can recognise blobs moving to the left or to the right.

        Sure. But ML would be the easiest way (in terms of developer time) to construct that video decoder. Which is exactly what this guy did. He could probably have increased accuracy by adding a clear tube and pointing the camera at the tube (I think that's what hcs_$reboot was suggesting), but on the other hand what he's really interested in are trends, not absolute numbers, so it's likely that his solution is good enough. And he avoided having to modify the hive in a way that might disturb the bees.

        This is

    • by paiute ( 550198 )
      Hive entrances are always being changed depending on several factors, so one tube is not optimal at all times.
  • I'm not sure what benefit this really offers, aside from being an interesting project. There was another bee project a while back that recorded hive temperature and aggregate weight -- that thing was able to measure the total weight of bees in the hive with sufficient accuracy that you could easily spot the times when the foragers were leaving the hive and returning later in the day.

    FWIW I am an amateur beekeeper and I don't think I would use the bee-counting Rpi gizmo. I would much rather wander out to my

Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do. -- R. A. Heinlein