Utah Department of Agriculture and Food

Infrared Camera Technology Aids Honeybee Health


Media Advisory

1445 W Crystal Ave, West Valley City


Utah Bee Inspectors Use Infrared Camera to Help Protect Bee Population
Utah is among first states to use FLIR technology in bee health program

A demonstration of FLIR technology is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016.

With bee populations continuing to decline, though at slower rates in Utah, Utah’s bee inspectors work with Utah beekeepers through the winter.  Using the FLIR technology, inspectors are able to “see” inside beehives during cold months to detect healthy or struggling hives.  Nationally bee losses range from 10 to 50 percent, depending on the state.  Utah’s bee loss is about 30 percent.

See our video about the technology.

What:        Winter Honey Bee Inspection Demonstration
When:       5:30 pm.  Wednesday February 3, 2016 
Where:      1445 W Crystal Ave, West Valley City

Contact: Jack Wilbur (801) 538-7098
Cell (801) 243-2801
Larry Lewis (801) 514-2152
Joey Caputo (801) 538-4912


Utah Among The First To Use FLIR Technology For Bee Inspections

Most people don’t think of winter as a good time to inspect honey bee colonies, but apiary inspectors at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food are actively inspecting hives this winter, thanks to a partnership with the University of Utah. The infrared camera winter beehive health inspection program is among the first of its kind nationally and one of many free services available to registered beekeepers to help them better manage their colonies.

Utah’s honey production is valued at about $2 million per year for beekeepers, from nearly 30,000 reported colonies.  The honeybee industry exerts a much larger impact on agriculture as their pollination activities help produce about 30 percent of our food supply.  Utah’s agriculture industry, including production and processing, is valued at more than $17.5 billion.  

The U. College of Biology, using a grant from the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, has loaned UDAF an infrared camera that allows inspectors to “see” into hives without opening the hives, which may expose living bees to freezing temperatures. The FLIR camera detects heat signatures in the hive. If the hive has a strong heat signature they will leave it alone. If they believe the hive is dead or severely compromised they will, with permission of the beekeeper, open the hive, try to determine the cause and take bee samples for analysis. If foulbrood or another contagious disease is found, inspectors will recommend steps beekeepers can take before the weather warms to prevent the spread of the disease.

Some of the reasons hives die in the winter include Varroamite infestation, Nosema infection, water leaking into the hive from melting snow or ice, snow or another obstruction blocking the entrance, and inadequate nutrition for the winter. Once the cause of the “dead out” is determined, inspectors will provide beekeepers with a list of steps they can take to avoid future winter losses.

See a video of the technology in action.


Above is an image from the FLIR camera that shows a live hive.
The bright yellow in the top part of the rectangle box is where the living bees are clustered.



This image shows a hive with little or no life. The darker the color, the colder the temperature.







posted: Jan 29, 2016