Infrared Cameras Used to Check Health of Utah's Honey Bees

Good4Utah.com    By Kimberly Nelson   February 3, 2016
 

WEST VALLEY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Utah's agricultural industry is a $17 billion business and to keep it buzzing, bees are essential. While we typically think of bees in the spring the Department of Agriculture and Food is checking on the health of Utah's bees this winter.
 
Beekeepers don't open up their beehives to inspection in the winter because they don't want to subject their colonies to freezing temperatures, but thanks to the University of Utah the Dept. of Agriculture has a new tool to check on the health of the beehive. 
 
It's not new technology, but the Utah Department of Agriculture is one of the first in the nation to use infrared cameras to check on the health of the honeybees.
 
UDAF Apiary Inspector Stephen Stanko explained, "For the hives that are dead, or almost dead, what we'll do is we'll open up those hives with the beekeeper's permission and do postmortem inspection right there and try to figure out what killed the colony. This is helpful for the beekeeper because they can use the information to change their tactics for next season."
                   
UDAF says knowing how to properly take care of a diseased hive before spring could help prevent the spread of pests and disease. "Get the beekeeper to put the equipment in a bee-proof location so that come springtime when temperatures are warmer and bees are flying again other bees don't try to rob the money from the affected hive and spread disease," said Stanko.
 
And for the beekeepers. this early look at the health of their hive helps them plan for next season. "It's so great for us to be able to predict what our loses are going to be over the winter so that we can properly prepare for our hives next year," said beekeeper Douglas Harper.
 
For more information on the winter beehive inspections log on to: udaf-apiary@utah.gov