Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall Update

Fall Update
We hope everyone had a healthy and productive beekeeping season! Here in the mountains of Western NC, USA the temperatures are dropping and the leaves are changing. Thus, fall has arrived! At the Hive Tracks bee yard we've been busy winterizing, also meaning it's the perfect time to get our Hive Tracks account accurate and up-to-date heading into winter. We encourage you to do the same by updating your hives' conditions and adding any notes you may not have entered over the summer.

Login to your Hive Tracks account. Forgot your password? No problem, you can reset it HERE. Also, don't forget we have a great resource of online video tutorials to help you navigate your way around your account.
Summer in Review
Recording Mite Counts in Hive Tracks
This past summer, Hive Tracks introduced Mite Count reporting as a new feature enabling users to collect mite infestation data and visualize varroa infestations in their honey bee colonies.

To participate, evaluate the level of mites (number of mites per 100 bees) using standardized protocol. Then, enter the data from each hive into your Hive Tracks account using the Mite Count feature.

When you enter your mite load data you will have the option to opt-in to share your data with MiteCheck (www.mitecheck.com), which is an ongoing mite monitoring effort provided by the Bee Informed Partnership.

If you opt-in, you can then visit the MiteCheck site to see varroa levels in your region on a map. Be sure to check that site frequently to see the county level infestation levels during this critical beekeeping month. The published information will not identify individual participants.

Inspecting Your Hives Using the Healthy Colony Checklist

In collaboration with Dick Rogers, entomologist, apiologist and research manager for Bayer's North American Bee Health program, we've added the Healthy Colony Checklist to Hive Tracks, a quick, six-item standardized set of guidelines for beekeepers to follow when inspecting hives.

Rogers, creator of the Healthy Colony Checklist, explains, "To efficiently and effectively protect and improve colony health, it is now essential to monitor colonies more frequently, even as often as weekly. A method for weekly colony assessments needs to be easy to use, fast, thorough, and yield observations that are meaningful and easy to interpret for practical management decision ­making by apiarists, apiculturists, and apiologists."

To use the Healthy Colony Checklist, simply login to your Hive Tracks account, navigate to your Hives page, and click the Healthy Colony Checklist link under the Most Recent Inspection column. 

Your inspection findings will result in a percentage score based on the answers given to the questions that apply to your colony(s). Scores are recorded and graphed for easy historical reference.

Would you like to read our full blog post on the Healthy Colony Checklist? Check it out HERE.

Thank you for reading! We hope you have a happy, healthy... and warm winter!

Questions about any of the new features? Want to know more about our research efforts? Email us at support@hivetracks.com or visit us at HiveTracks.com.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Apimondia 2017


Hive Tracks at Apimondia

Apimondia is an annual beekeeping conference where beekeepers from around the world have been gathering for 120 years for the sharing of beekeeping knowledge and information. This year’s event was held in Istanbul, Turkey and our Hive Tracks was in attendance with a stand at the exposition. 

Over the course of the six-day conference, Hive Tracks' CEO James Wilkes and son Sullivan Wilkes held software demonstrations. Midway through the week, James Wilkes gave a presentation about Hive Tracks Commercial, the company's newest apiary management software for commercial operations. The crowd of beekeeping amateurs, clubs, scientists and professionals were engaged and left excited about our newest development. A 20-minute Q & A session rounded out James' presentation. 

During the event we also spoke to a number of of potential partners and commercial operations. We estimate that we spoke to people from over 20 countries!  A well-rounded trip left our team excited and with a lot of new ideas.... and a lot of work! Exciting times ahead for Hive Tracks. 🙂 

Want to learn about Hive Tracks Commercial? Visit our official Hive Tracks Commercial website HERE and sign up for a demo today!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Latest News

Buzzin' Around Beantown


August 28, 2017 - The Hive Tracks team recently traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to attend Americas Conference on Information Systems (AMCIS) 2017, while stopping by their local beekeeping friends at Follow the Honey.

The annual AMCIS meeting brings together more than 1000 attendees, every year. The weekend-long conference consists of research paper presentations, panel discussions, and keynotes on all the latest research and innovation in computer information systems. 

This year, Hive Tracks' Dr. Joe Cazier presented his research on building a standardized data platform for beekeepers.

This project aims to set up a data analytics platform that allows for the consistent and reliable data collection of both human interventive and natural order data across commercial and backyard beekeepers that will allow for the applicaiton of advanced data analytics techniques.



These Big Data analytical techniques applied to data from across multiple locations, crops and forage locations will allow for the analysis and understanding of relationships in beekeeping and agriculture. To learn more about this project and other Hive Tracks research efforts, please visit https://hivetracks.com/research.php.

While in the area, Hive Tracks' stopped by their friends at Follow the Honey - a Cambridge based bee product business who travel the world to bring "transparency of source" raw honey and bee-inspired offerings to their customers. To learn about Follow the Honey's products and offerings, and read about their most recent travel stories, visit http:/www.followthehoney.com/.

Be sure to tune in for our next blog post, where we'll be discussing beekeeper Sullivan Wilkes' recent travels to commercial beekeeping operations around North America.

References

Cazier, Joseph. "Building an Analytics Platform for Beekeepers" August 12, 2017. https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/11Qink0NuYLnZQ3RhTVVN6WNpJIlB4IeLBHkxPQW6Gn4/edit?usp=sharing
Wilkes, J., Cazier, J., Moody, G. "Electronic Data Collection and Sensor Integration for Data Aggregation, Best Management Practices Data Mining and Smart Hive Development" March 1, 2016.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Healthy Colony Checklist

Simplifying Inspections to Maximize Results

Background

Apiculture and the global bee population have seen an ever increasing variety of threats over the past 10 years. Although current bee populations in the US have recovered following several years of significant colony losses, the annual losses continue to be above a sustainable level. Significant resources are required for restoring populations, especially from commercial beekeepers. Though it is widely debated, causes of the colony losses may include, but are not limited to: pathogens, varroa mites, management practices that fail to adapt to changing conditions, irresponsible chemical use in the hive and its surrounding environment, genetically modified crops, and changes in global temperature (Ellis, 2007). 

Ever since the unusual conditions of collapsing hives during the winter of 2006, beekeepers and researchers alike have been searching for answers and a better understanding of the factors affecting honey bee mortality. 

The Significance 

Though questions remain and unusual occurrences continue to surface, research and experience both support the notion that a measurable reduction in colony losses can be achieved through management practices that are within the control of the beekeeper. A recent study from 2014­-2015 by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), which collects survey data and correlates for annual losses, found summer colony losses eclipsed winter losses for commercial beekeepers, which disagrees with the usual trend of loss (Steinhauer, et al., 2015). 

BIP looks for correlations between management practices and colony loss and has found significant differences in losses for several common management practices, such as the use of varroa control products. 

Below is a summary of total overwintering colony losses in the United States across eleven years of conducting the winter loss survey and across six years of conducting the summer annual loss survey. (BeeInformed.org, 2017)




The Opportunity 

In addition to the issue of declining bee populations, beekeepers and growers of pollinated crops struggle to know the best courses of action to optimize productivity for their bees and crops. Beekeepers and pollination dependent farmers need the knowledge to better manage their colonies and crops to optimize both the economic return by understanding the true cost of beekeeping and the best management practices to better understand the efficacy and impact of various management practices. 

Simplifying Inspections to Maximize Results

"To efficiently and effectively protect and improve colony health, it is now essential to monitor colonies more frequently, even as often as weekly. A method for weekly colony assessments needs to be easy to use, fast, thorough, and yield observations that are meaningful and easy to interpret for practical management decision ­making by apiarists, apiculturists, and apiologists." (Rogers, 2017)

Rogers suggests that the three questions you need answered by the end of a quick colony inspection, are:

1. Is the colony healthy?
2. If not, why?
3. What needs to be done to fix the problem?

Expanding on this simple high level description which captures the basics of a healthy colony, Rogers (2017) details six major indicators or inspection items that largely describe the present state oa hive, which he coined as the "Healthy Colony Checklist". 

The framework proposed by Rogers in the Healthy Colony Checklist provides the infrastructure for a standardized set of guidelines for beekeepers to follow when inspecting hives. 

Ready to check it out?

View the Healthy Colony Checklist and Record Your Findings

You can now find the Healthy Colony Checklist in your Hive Tracks account. Simply login to your HiveTracks.com account, click the "Hives" tab, and find the Healthy Colony Checklist link under the "Most Recent Inspection" column. 

Your inspection findings will result in a percentage score based on the answers given
to the questions that apply to your colony(s). Scores are tracked, graphed and recorded for your historical reference. 

If you want to try out the new Healthy Colony Checklist, sign up and give it a try HERE.

Citations
Blog, May 25 2017 •. "2016­-2017 Loss Results: Thank You to All Survey Participants!" 2016­-2017 Loss Results: Thank You to All Survey Participants! Bee Informed Partnership, 25 May 2017. Web. 08 June
Ellis, James. (2007). Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) in Honey Bees. Retrieved February 21, 2016, from https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in720 
Rogers, R. (2017). Healthy Colony Checklist. Bayer CropScience https://beehealth.bayer.us/beekeepers/healthy­colony­checklist 
Steinhauer, N., et al(2015, May 13). Colony Loss 2014­2015: Preliminary Results . Retrieved Februar24, 2016, from https://ebeinformed.org/results/colony­loss­2014­2015­preliminary­results/2017. 
Wilkes, J., Cazier, J., Moody, G. "Electronic Data Collection and Sensor Integration for Data Aggregation, Best Management Practices, Data Mining and Smart Hive Development" Project Apis m Healthy Hives 2020 Grant Proposal. March 1, 2016.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

"Smarter Hives, Healthier Bees" Webinar

"Smarter Hives, Healthier Bees" Webinar


Joseph Cazier, Ph.D. and Ed Hassler, Ph.D. of the Center for Analytics Research and Education, Appalachian State University, and James Wilkes, Ph.D., Computer Science Department, Appalachian State University, and Founder, HiveTracks.com, will discuss advancements in the use of technology-assisted data collection at the honey bee colony level to assist beekeepers in making wise hive management decisions.

You can watch the full webinar HERE (registration required).

We hope you enjoy!

The Hive Tracks Team



Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hive Tracks News


Hive Tracks News

May 31, 2017


In collaboration with Bee Culture Magazine, Hive Tracks will be presenting a live webinar entitled “Smarter Hives, Healthier Bees” on Fri., June 23, 2017 @ Noon Eastern as part of the Healthy Hives 2020 Webinar Series. Learn more and register  @ http://www.beeculture.com/kimandjimshow/.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Hive Tracks Help



How-To Video Tutorials

Need extra help navigating your way around Hive Tracks? Perhaps you've got a few questions about the Hive Tracks mobile app? 

No matter the question, the new Hive Tracks How-To YouTube channel has you covered. Hive Tracks' James Wilkes walks you through step-by-step the most important things you need to know to make the most of your Hive Tracks experience. 

Take it from Hive Tracks user Annette who says, 
"I like the pop up [message] that took me to a YouTube video. I did not know that you had videos available to assist new users until today [...] Now I will seek out the YouTube videos. Everyone considering Hive Tracks (especially small time folks like me - 4 - 10 hives urban beekeeper) should know the videos exist and make it easy to learn and act as a reminder. [...] It takes the frustration out of not knowing where to find things on the site, especially after winter and little if any use for 3 - 4 months. Thanks!" 

Would you like to check out the channel? Click the video below to get started!


Happy beekeeping,

James @ Hive Tracks