Keeping track of the bees
The last couple of months I’ve been out in the field talking to beekeepers about BuzzTech’s bee management tools. On my travels, I have been trying to understand some of the ways beekeeping businesses can benefit from more robust management systems. There’s been some great feedback from a range of beekeeping models in Pollination, Breeding and Honey production.
The beekeeping industry has been rather slow to pick up on technology especially in the area of bee management system. Tried and tested methods (like stickers, bricks, or diaries) are familiar and appear easier to manage, however with the changing needs and requirements of the industry it makes sense to centralise this process in a software system that enables beekeepers to achieve operational excellence while focussing on optimum colony health.
A number of enterprise level operators with 20,000+ hives have been developing internal management systems with mixed level of success, 3 out of the 5 I spoke to have developed internal systems that they were not satisfied with because the technology was hard for them to manage and update internally. The others had paper based systems that were not providing any useful data at all!
Of the commercial level operators, less than 20% had tried using software or apps for hive management and many less had integrated these systems into their daily beekeeping operations long term.
In talking with beekeepers and beekeeping company operators I’ve identified some recurring issues with the current ‘offline’ and primitive online systems:
- Beekeepers summarise inspection data for apiary visits on paper, which is never indexed or used in reporting. Hive specific information like strength and condition are sometimes left with the hive (stickers, bricks, etc) and eventually overwritten.
- If a beekeeper want to know what’s come and gone from an apiary, they need to look back through diaries or try to remember – this causes difficulty with recommended RMP certification and AFB quarantining procedures.
- Beekeepers and managers don’t have access to any records while on the road – they rely on phone calls to find things out, which is not ideal when beekeepers work out of coverage.
- Beekeepers don’t know what happens in an apiary or hive when they aren’t there – results in theft, swarming, and colony deaths.
Taking these insights; BuzzTech’s bee management software enables real time delivery of information, easy logging of inspections at the hive or apiary level, tracking the performance of stock over time, seeing what needs doing and where, and to record and track the location of every hive. https://buzztech.nz/hive-management/
Isaac Eyres Owner | Director of Eyres Apiary has been trialing our Bee Management Software. I stopped in to have a chat and find out some of the benefits he’s been experiencing.
BT: How do beekeepers benefit from more data?
EA: Having more data available to us [the beekeeper] means we can make better decisions on where to go and when or if to go at all. The ability to see trends in the data relating to behaviour and productivity means we can predict better honey flows and be prepared for situations.
BT: How are the bees benefitting from better data?
EA: The bees (colonies) are benefiting as they are being attended to at the right time. I can see what’s going on so I have the right gear to boost the colony when I visit an apiary. If it’s space to grow we can adjust that or food then we can meet their requirements in a timely and efficient way.
BT: What are the advantages of bee management software?
EA: All-encompassing bee management software means I can manage our hives offline while in the field, ideally an app version of a hive diary. This then syncs when I’m back at home base or in reception. The offline is a must in my opinion as a lot of apiaries are in remote locations and there’s no point writing something in a diary and then transferring it to a computer when you can put it into your phone or iPad and have it automatically update with back in a service area. Another advantage is software that has the ability to remotely monitor hives.
BT: What innovations would you like to see in the industry?
EA: It would be great to see advancements in hive tracking especially a GPS system that can track hives for security purposes.
BT: What are the benefits of technology for the industry?
EA: Technology will change the industry making it more efficient for beekeeping operations, cost savings (as long as the technology is cost effective) and simple to use out in the field. We have to remember beekeepers are out in the elements, and often very busy so if it takes too long to input data / log inspections beekeepers won’t take it up.
Beekeepers, and beekeeping business owners who have tried other apiary/hive logbook replacements and have been disappointed by the scalability, the ease of use, or the lack of features; you will want to take the BuzzTech trial for a spin.
We offer an app for offline + bulk inspection logging and we provide a web interface for managing your beekeeping operation.
Find out more about BuzzTech software and sensors by clicking HERE or emailing me directly at Julian@buzztech.nz