“Computer Programs for the Beekeeper”
Bee Culture (November 2003), Vol. 131 (11): 17-18
Dr. Malcolm T. Sanford
Periodically I am asked if there are any computer programs for beekeepers. There are too many to fully review here. They come in various flavors from the “killer application,” electronic mail, simply called “e-mail,” to stand-alone applications and those that can be accessed and used on the Internet through the World Wide Web. I distribute my Apis newsletter via e-mail.1 A first place to look for electronic beekeeping information of any kind using the World Wide Web (a computer application of its own) is to access the Beehoo directory.2 There is a specific listing there for software that can be used in a number of ways and also is available in different languages. French speakers will want to check out the program called Apilogic, version 5.02, developed by my good friend Gilles Ratia of Apiservices in southwest France.3 I will not review it here as it is only available in French,, but after only a little study even in a foreign language, the potential for use in a variety of situations from in-depth record keeping to statistical models is apparent.
The Beeaware program developed by
The EDBI foundation has both tracking software (Bidata) and a pollen database available through its Web site.6 The tracking software is continually being updated (Version 6.0 is now available) and there will soon be a version out for “palm” computers. There is a lot of information on this Web site and it could take quite some time to download one or both programs. For 10 Euros, it is recommended that one order the CD-ROM, which, includes a free 20 hive-edition plus a lot of other material, including the pollen database, more than 500 megabytes of information in total. The Bidata program is also available in several languages.
The Carl Hayden Tucson Bee Laboratory’s Web site (Gears) advertises several computer applications. Certainly the price is right. They are free. “VarroaPop simulates the growth of Varroa mite populations in honey bee colonies. The program demonstrates how Varroa mites influence colony population growth throughout the year. You can change many factors through the menus in the model such as the initial population size, queen egg laying potential, and mite reproduction rates, so you can see how these factors influence both colony and mite population growth. We hope that the model will help you understand the interactions between the honey bee and mite populations and provide insights on how best to control Varroa in colonies.”
BK-Economics is a software package that was developed by a team of
scientists at the
The specialized program Redapol is also available from the Tucson Web site. It is a computer-based model simulating the interactions of weather, bloom and honey bee foraging activity that culminate in 'Delicious' apple fruit-set. The model predicts the percentage of blossoms setting fruit based upon weather conditions, orchard design, tree characteristics, and honey bee colonies per hectare. Other applications are found at the Web site that can be used interactively with an Internet connection. These include the “pollination bible,” last published in 1976 by S.E. McGregor, Insect Pollination of Cultivated Crop Plants. This is the “first and only virtual beekeeping book updated continuously.” Then there is Web Bee Pop that simulates how honey bee population dynamics depends on the weather. Five different climatic regions can be selected. Finally, the site provides a down and dirty look at the structure of bees as viewed through a scanning microscope, the electronic version of A Scanning Electron Microscope Atlas of the Honey Bee, by Eric Erickson and colleagues, reproduced with permission of the Iowa University Press.
I cannot end this short column on computer possibilities without mentioning my Apis Information Resource Center.9 Here one can sign up for a free beekeeping information and peruse information for sale both in English and Spanish in both HTML and HTML help formats.
As the digital age matures, there are bound to be more and more computer programs available to beekeepers. Fortunately, it will not be difficult to find most of them using the power of the Internet and World Wide Web.