Flir One Thermal Imaging Camera For Beekeepers?

Here’s a short video that demonstrates what I typically experience when I plug in my Flir One thermal imaging camera:

Is the Flir One thermal imaging camera useful for backyard beekeepers? After fooling around with it for a little over three years now, my answer is still “Not really.” I have the ‘Flir One for Android’ (2016 model) and I’m kind of glad I have it, but I don’t think it would be the end of the world if I didn’t have one — mainly because the images I get from it aren’t that great. They’re okay, but I’d say at least 90% of the time, I can’t read much from the images other than yes, the outside of my hives seem to be giving off a heat signature of some kind, and once in a while I can notice a hot spot in the image that I interpret as a cluster of bees, but most of the time, everything I point the camera at seems to light up — whether it’s the trees, the beehives, the side of my completely-unheated beeshed, etc. (and I do it at night in the cold long after the sun has gone down). I often look at the side of my shed and then my beehives and they both seem to be lit up with heat signatures, though only one of them is full of bees. Like I said, sometimes I can make out a hot spot or get some sense of where the bees might be in the hive, but most of the thermal images I get from the Flir One aren’t precise enough for me to interpret anything from them.

This is what the hives in the infrared video look like in the day time. (Yup, they’re painted blank, and they’re not wrapped.)

Some details about the Flir One for Android:

When I first bought it in 2016, the battery, especially while recording video, would last about 10 minutes on a cold day. I believe the Flir people claim the battery will last 20 minutes or more. That’s never been the case for me. Not even close.

The Flir One produces a low-resolution standard definition image with a 4:3 aspect ratio (not a 16:9 aspect ratio / widescreen image, and definitely not HD). That’s not really a problem, though.

It plugs into my old Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile phone and other Android phones. Other versions are available for iPhone people.

I bought it directly from the Canadian arm of Flir for $372.84 in April 2016. It took several months to arrive after I placed the order because they were falling behind production at the time.

I installed some Flir imaging software on my home computer. It can do many things: create different types of images, create reports for people using it for house inspections and whatnot, etc. All that might be great, but I just want video and still images that are useful right out of the gate that don’t require post-production work to get something good from them.

Many people rave about how wonderful the Flir One camera is for beekeepers, but for backyard beekeepers with not a great deal of money to spend, the Flir One may feel like an extravagance. For me, it’s a cool thing to have around at times, but it’s not essential to my beekeeping.

See my previous post about the Flir One for more details: Beekeeping With a “Flir One for Android” Thermal Imaging Device.