You’ve probably seen in our press release earlier this month that we will be coming out with an app to help our beekeepers with their hive inspections. This week, we met with the team over at DevCodeCamp to talk about what features to include, . We are so excited for this app, and we hope that you are, too! This app is going to make hive inspections and recording data faster and easier, and it will greatly benefit the bees in the long run.
At the meeting, the team got together to discuss ideas for what should go into the app. It was extremely helpful to have people from both sides – both beekeeping and technology – to be able to talk about what needs to be included and how to go about making it happen.
Our main goal in the creation of the app is to make data collection easier for our beekeepers. As it stands right now, collecting data can be a bit of a pain. Beekeepers are having to get creative with how they record the goings-on in their hives, from bringing a laptop and having to balance it somewhere, to bringing along another person to take notes. This app will allow beekeepers to record data right on their smartphones, which they probably have with them on inspections, anyway.
As we said, the purpose of this app is to collect data, so every aspect of this app is going to make collecting thorough data easier than ever before. There will be screens that will allow you to “build a yard,” essentially entering the location of your yard, how many hives are there, and how close together the hives are. By tracking the locations of the hives, data analysts will be able to look at how climate, weather, elevation, etc. affect colonies.
We are also working on integrating some personalized educational features into the app. Our goal is for the app to analyze the data that a beekeeper puts in, and then provide a link to an article or resource that is applicable to their situation. For example, if a beekeeper enters data that indicate that their hive may be preparing to swarm (rapidly increasing population, presence of queen cups, etc.), they will be directed to an article describing the signs of swarming, and how to prevent it (if that’s what the beekeeper wants to do, that is).
There will be an option to add events, such as a swarm or split, an installation, or a dead hive. When events are entered, different forms will pop up for the beekeeper to fill out. In the case of a dead hive, they will be provided with an autopsy form to help them to figure out why their bees may have died. In the case of an installation, there will be a form asking whether the installation was from a nuc or a package, and what breed the bees were.
The app will also track what times beekeepers are visiting their hives. By being able to look at the time of day that beekeepers are checking in on their hives, researchers may be able to learn more about bees’ daily routines. These time stamps will also determine how frequently beekeepers are looking at their hives. Bees can manage quite well on their own and shouldn’t be checked in on too often. One of the ideas discussed at the meeting is to have the app look at these timestamps, and if the beekeeper is doing inspections too frequently, a popup window will appear telling the beekeeper to “buzz off.”
If you were already collecting data during your hive inspections, or wanted to but it was just too labor-intensive, this app is going to make your life much easier. There will be pre-made hive inspection forms so that you know you’re checking everything you need to. The buttons will also be large, so you can easily enter data using touch screen gloves, gloves with a fingertip cut off, or even your nose! This app will work great no matter how you use your phone at the hive.
For those beekeepers that don’t have a smartphone, or prefer to work from a computer rather than a phone, there’s no need to feel left out! We spent some time talking about creating a desktop interface to go along with the app in the future.
At this point in time, science is lagging when it comes to bees. The first bee white blood cell was only just identified in the last 10-15 years! A big part of the problem of not knowing as much about bees as other animals is the lack of good data. By making it easier for beekeepers to collect thorough data, we are hoping that we can help form a good store of data for researchers to use for their studies. The more we know about bees, the more we can understand why they’re disappearing, and the more we can do to help them.
In the coming weeks we will be posting regular updates on how the development of the app is coming along. In these updates, we will also introduce you to the members of the development team, so you can get to know a little about the people who are working hard on this project.
Is there anything that you’d like to see included in the app? Let us know in the comments!