Citizen Science & Tech Helping Bees Livecast – EyesOnHives

Check out the 45minute livecast and Q&A session with EyesOnHives project lead Kelton Temby.

Livecast date: June 30th.

Title: Citizen Science & Tech Helping Bees Livecast – EyesOnHives

Length: 46mins, transcript below.

Starting with Citizen Science

In this introduction livecast we share the story of EyesOnHives!  We outline why we started, then launch in to how beekeepers are using EyesOnHives.

You’ll see how beekeepers are able to see the hive’s orientation activity, and hear an explanation of how that relates to hive health.  Then see how flight activity lets us measure hive growth.

We show also how beekeepers can see a hive has become unhealthy so that action can be taken, or help can be asked from other beekeepers in a timely way!


  • Why we’re measuring bee hive activity to give an indicator of hive health.
  • Why a data-based approach makes sense and interferes less with the bees.
  • Platform Demo and Results including detecting healthy vs unhealthy hives.
  • Discovering special activity patterns in the data including Swarming, Robbing and Orientation.
  • The future of the EyesOnHives Analytics Platform, and a community of Citizen Scientists.

Live Question and Answer Session

  • You asked, we answered!  Tune in for approximately 20 mins of Live Q&A at the end of the presentation.


Welcome to the EyesOnHives Apiary!

Thanks everybody for joining, really excited to be able to share our project with you tonight!

We’re here in the EyesOnHives apiary as you can see behind us!

We’ve got a few of the units and some live bees so hopefully they’ll enjoy listening in as well, if not you might see I get a nice bee sting on the face!

Okay I wanted to kick this off and share a little bit of why we’re doing this, before we really get into too many of the details about EyesOnHives itself.

Accelerating the Transition to Sustainable Agriculture

I have a presentation that i’m looking forward to sharing parts of. I’ll walk through a couple of the details that are pretty important for how this project really got started.

As you can see here, the mission of Keltronix is ‘to accelerate the transition to sustainable agriculture’.

We became fascinated and curious about what we could do to better understand bees.

What you can see here is the high-level outlines that we think are really important for why we care about this.

A third of a food we eat depends on bee pollination.

Last year it went up to forty four percent, but in 2014 forty two percent of bee colonies in the United States actually failed.

A third of a food we eat depends on bee pollination.44% of bee colonies failed in 2015Beekeepers often lack visibility into hive health 


There are many reasons behind that but this is something that before 2006 was almost unheard of – to have anywhere near that number of bee colonies fail.

In the last 10 years there has been a dramatic increase in bee mortality. Obviously everybody is now aware that the bees are in trouble.

The other thing that we thought was really fascinating is that every two weeks is the common time frame for a beekeeper to inspect their hive.

What we really started to understand is that many beekeepers may actually lack visibility into what’s happened between a healthy hive and then two weeks later finding that the hive is in fact failed.


Urban Beekeeping in Santa Barbara

My name’s Kelton, and my team and I have been really considering this amazing fact: a third of our food depends on bees, and we have this lack of visibility into their health.

In the last couple of years we were inspired in part by this.

It’s kind of funny actually, a swarm of bees made their home in the garage wall behind me here.

I grew up with my father and grandfather being beekeepers. I reached out local beekeepers in town in Santa Barbara here and found out that not only Urban Beekeeping was very much alive, there’s an urban beekeeping movement.

It is also something that this city supported.

Becoming a Custodian of the Bees

Jon Simpson, co-founder of Keltronix and I actually rescued that bee colony out of the wall and and gave them a home here in the backyard.

Becoming a beekeeper is just amazing. Other people might think it’s a terrifying idea – 20,000 stinging insects – what could possibly go wrong right?

I fell in love with bees because I get the sense of connecting with my environment.

There’s a bit of a back add organic garden here behind me, and there’s a lot of food that you can grow more effectively with bees.

But it’s just the sense of the joy of being able to keep bees and being a custodian of their existence that I’m really inspired by.

A Metric for Measuring Hive Health

I had a mentor here in town called Paul Cronshaw. I’m very excited that he’s watching today.

My first real interaction with Paul was after doing a few swarm rescues around town and just helping out the Beekeeping Association.

Paul asked me to check on a hive in town and he asked “can you count the number of bees flying out of that hive and tell me how many are flying out in a minute?”. “That might give me a sense of the health of that hive”.

It was fascinating because my background is in robotics and healthcare and a big, big change in that industry is the understanding that we can actually measure things.

You might measure somebody’s heart rate for many weeks and then identify whether or not they have any irregularities, rather than see them having a heart attack and then wonder why.

Health care has shown that getting data is a better approach to undestanding whether there is a problem.

I was inspired by the idea that a beekeeper who has been beekeeping here for 40 years was thinking in terms of data

There must be a better way

It’s a manual thing to sit in front of a hive counting bees.

I’ve got a few hives back there and I started counting for each of those hives every week, but getting the sense that maybe there’s something to this.

As you can imagine sitting in front of a hive of all day every day when you have a day job is not feasible at all.

It would be much better if there was some way to build a robot with some sort of brain so that it actually do that task for us.

That’s why we started thinking about EyesOnHives.

The bees are in trouble. Here’s an idea of how we can measure their health. We can build a tool that can enable any beekeeper to be able to effectively perform the human perception service of counting beats flying infront of these beehives all day every day.

Rather than for one or two minutes that we spend and looking at a beehive while we’re having a coffee in the morning.

Up for the challenge!

Being a team of engineers we love challenges and we thought this is a really cool problem and we might be able to help out, depending on what we can do with that data.

But can we even measure anything that matters?

We formed a team and started tackling this. Sure enough it turned out that yes, we can actually measure the bees’ flights.

We can actually also measure how long the bees with we’re hanging around in front of the hives.

It was just amazing at first to be able to measure anything!

Once we started measuring the signals were actually able to develop a model for what a hive looks like over a day!