This is our first year with our honey bees and I am getting anxious to see the bees after a long, cold and windy winter. The only way I could keep track of them was with a stethoscope and a cool gadget from FLIR which plugs into my iPhone. (A model is also available for Android devices).
The stethoscope helped me track their location and a good guess about their activity from the noise volume, but I needed a visual. With the FLIR One I can see where the ball of bees are hanging out and how big the ball is.
Even better, there were a the few warm and sunny days in February when quite a few bees ventured out to clean out their systems and get fresh air. Unless bees are sick they do not defecate in the hive, otherwise they would contaminate their own food.