Why Buy Fischer’s Nectar Detector Rather Than Other Hive Scales?

Simply put, the Nectar Detector is a practical tool, while the more expensive scales are impractical toys.  This is not our claim, this is the sober assessment of NASA, who has learned the hard way about our competition in their ongoing study of climate change and its impact on bloom dates:

Quoting their official protocol document: http://honeybeenet.gsfc.nasa.gov/About/SHprotocol.htm

Electronic scales are coming on the market, but there is currently no low cost model that runs on batteries, is weather proof, and has sufficient accuracy over the range of temperatures encountered.  Re-zeroing is a problem, as well as confidence in the accuracy over time, since most electronic scales are designed to be turned on unloaded, automatically zeroed themselves with no load present, followed by determining the load weight a short time later.  They will work only if you want to lift the entire hive on and off in a few seconds, every time you want to weigh it.  In addition, accuracy depends on temperature.  Its fairly easy to tell if the mechanical balance beam scale has a problem, not necessarily so with an electronic one.  Hopefully some manufacturer will remedy this situation and market something affordable.”

Fischer’s Nectar Detector is the answer to all of the problems listed above:

Low Cost – Yep, about ¼ the cost of other hives scales.  Cheaper than a replacement package of bees!

Runs on Batteries – Yep, it runs about a year on one button-cell battery.

Is Weather Proof – Yep, the works go home with you, and never suffer extended exposure to the elements.

Sufficient Accuracy Over the Range of Temperatures – Yep, you zero the scale before each weighing, so there is no drift due to temperature.

Re-zeroing is a Problem – Nope, just press a button!

Confidence in the Accuracy Over Time – Nope, you can verify it any time against a known reference.

Since most electronic scales are designed to be turned on unloaded, automatically zeroed themselves with no load present, followed by determining the load weight a short time later.” Hey!  That’s Exactly How to Use Fischer’s Nectar Detector! 

Best of all, one Nectar Detector is all you need to weigh every hive you own, as often as you like.  Even the old platform scale could only tell you about one hive’s weight.

Your Data Should Be Yours!

Most of the hive scales being sold send their data to the website of the vendor.  If the vendor goes out of business, the hive scale you bought from them is useless without their server.  Better to have control your own data, and to assure your own privacy. 

Can I Use Fischer’s Nectar Detector in Hive Entrances?

Yes, you’d need to take an entrance reducer or scrap wood, and cut it so that it slides in easily, leaving a 1/8th inch gap at the top for the Nectar Detector bracket.  A mark or thumbtack to mark the center of the brood box would also help you to keep yourself centered.  We try to stay out of the way of bees taking off and landing, and prefer working from the back, but a weighing does not take long.

A similar approach would work with bottom boards having a slot at the back for a varroa sticky-board.

Can I Notch My Bottom Boards?

Yes, you’ll need a 1/8th inch deep by 2 1/8th inch wide notch, centered on the back rail of your bottom board.  If you cut the 1/8th-inch deep cuts with a hand saw, a chisel can remove the notched-out wood.

How Do I Start, When I Don’t Know The Weight of My Woodenware?

Weights of typical woodenware components are given in the manual, but the most important factor is the change in weight between the prior weighing and the current weighing.  It is the change in weight, tracked over time that reveals the status of the hive.

Why Are The Weight of Bees and Wax Comb Ignored?

Both are so light, they are negligible as compared to the day’s foraging gains or the day’s consumption of stores. A fully-drawn wax comb weighs almost exactly the same as the frame with foundation, before it is drawn out.

When I Feed, How Do I Weigh The Feed Itself?

Weigh before adding the feed, and then after.  Subtract “before” from “after”.

Can I Use Any Wrench Handle?

Yes, you do not need to use our handle. Any socket wrench, or breaker-bar will do.  Any length handle can be used. If you have difficulty with lifting the hive the tiny amount required, a length of galvanized pipe can be slid over the handle, and will increase your leverage significantly.

Does It Support Bluetooth? USB? WiFi? Text Messaging? Satellite?

No, no, no, no, and no.  The weights are displayed on the LCD display.  That’s it.  No nonsense.  Far less to break, far less to run down the batteries.  If you want to be high-tech, you can enter the weights into your phone rather than using a paper notebook, but take care!  Propolis and consumer electronics are not a good mix. 

OBJECTIONS

WHY CAN'T I JUST HEFT MY HIVE? 

You can, and you may even be a good estimator of weight.  But this will save your back, disturb the bees far less, and is a repeatable, reliable metric - a way to track stores consumption in winter with accuracy, and estimate predict how long your bees can survive on the remaining food in the hive, allowing you to be proactive, rather than reactive about feeding.

But I Know My Bloom Dates!

Yes, of course you KNEW them, but springs are getting less predictable.  Read what the NASA-Goddard “HoneyBeeNet page says:

“Ecologists are concerned that crucial plant-pollinator relationships could be disrupted as a result of climate and land use changes, to the detriment of all.  We are using colonies of honey bees in the Mid-Atlantic region to monitor changes in the timing of this plant-pollinator interaction - the honey bee nectar flow - by the simple, yet careful, daily weighing of hives to track incremental changes. Our Maryland data indicate that the peak nectar flow occurs nearly 4 weeks earlier than in 1970s.  This change of the nectar flow timing is likely due to climate changes and the warming effect of urbanization.”

So even the most experienced beekeeper may not be able to rely on traditional dates, or even traditional indicator plants.

Better to see the weight of actual food foraged with one's own eyes, and not get caught flat footed.  

BUT I ALREADY KNOW HOW MUCH TO FEED MY BEES

How much you feed is not important.  What matters is how much they store and still have by first frost. With warmer autumns, how much of that do your bees eat before the cold sets in?  You may have to keep feeding to get the target weight you wanted the hive to have “by Thanksgiving”.

BUT I ALREADY KNOW WHEN TO HARVEST

Or did the bees simply run out of room, because you did not super enough drawn comb? Know for sure, weigh your hive. These days, the blooms can run longer than they have been in the past.