Module 5: Data Collection & Analysis in Beekeeping

Table of Contents

What kind of data do beekeepers need to collect?

Beekeepers should keep a record of the following:

  1. Number and types of hives that they manage 
  2. Colony strength, queens laying pattern, calmness on comb, gentleness,   
  3. Integrated pest management – Varroa mite, wax moth, ants, toads, tracheal mites
  4. Dates, quantities and types of supplemental nutrition provided to bees.
  5. Types of forage near apiary, and their flowering periods.
  6. The moisture content of the honey prior to harvesting.
  7. The amount of honey extracted per hive
  8. The amount of other valued products from the hive eg. beeswax

How can the data be used?

Data is power. Now that we understand what data can be collected, let’s look at how this data can be used. For example, collecting data on the health of a hive, colony strength or presence of pest and diseases is important in understanding the health of a hive. A healthy hive is a productive hive. Hence, collecting this data is to your advantage if you want to increase productivity.

Information on forage and food for bees is also extremely important in ensuring that your colonies don’t leave or abscond. Hence, collecting this data is very important in preventing your bees from swarming.

Information on moisture content and yields of honey is also important in understanding the profitability of your operations. Are you making money or bleeding money? 

Therefore overall, data is your power and the more data you collect, the more information you have to make your operations more successful and profitable.

How do you collect this data?

1. Number and types of hives that they manage

  • Provide each hive with a unique number, and store in data form inspections in a ledger.
  • An efficient tool to use to accomplish this is to use the Hive App.

2. Assess colony strength, queens laying pattern, calmness of colony

  • As a beekeeper you want to see bees in all stages of development in the colony. Frames of open brood consisting of eggs and larvae, and frames of capped brood.
  • Ideally you want to see a frame with a 1” – 2” band of honey running along the top bar, and below this all the cells with open or capped brood. 
  • It is important to note what percentage of the frame is brood, pollen and honey
  • An efficient tool to use to accomplish this is to use the Hive App.

3. Integrated pest management - Varroa mite, wax moth, ants, toads, tracheal mites.

  • Is an essential part of beekeeping, it is vital that beekeeper monitor for the existence of pest and diseases. This is achieved by conducting regular inspection for know pests and pathogens, during the course of the beekeeping year.
  • Pest and disease data can be stored in the Hive App.

4. Dates, quantities and types of supplemental nutrition provided to bees.

  • Maintaining accurate records of nutritional supplements provided to colonies of bees is very important in a number of ways. (i) Keep track of expenditure on nutritional inputs. (ii) Maintain accurate records of when dearth periods occur.
  • Forage and feeding data can be stored in the Hive App.

5. Types of forage in close proximity to apiaries, and their flowering periods.

  • It is important for beekeepers to understand the flowering periods of forage within a 4 mile radius of their apiaries. This will inform them of what nectar flows are coming in, and possible marketing opportunities for finished products. 
  • Tracking the flowering periods year after year, will also provide valuable information with regards to the possible effects of climate change. 
  • Knowing the types of forage and their flowering periods will also guide the beekeeper as to when he would need to provide colonies with additional resources such as supers and frames.
  • An efficient tool to use to accomplish this is to use the Hive App.

6. Moisture content of the honey prior to harvesting.

  • Test the water content of the honey using a refractometer. Moisture content should not be above 20%, ideally you want to harvest honey with a moisture content below 18%.

7. The amount of honey extracted per hive.

  • Weigh the honey super with frames and subtract that from the weight of a similar super of extracted frames. The result will be the approximate weight of the honey extracted.
  • An efficient tool to use to store this information is the Hive App.

8. The amount of other valued added products from the hive eg. beeswax

  • Weigh the amount of wax, propolis collected from each hive
  • You can store this information in a ledger.

With proper data collection and analysis, a beekeeper will be able to know:

  • How well his bees are doing
  • How profitable each of his hives is
  • How many more hives he can handle
  • What other products he can sell

Data collection is therefore very important in beekeeping. If you want to go into commercial beekeeping, you need to be sure that you keep good records!

Ready to test your knowledge? Request the final exam for Module 5.

Ready to test your knowledge? Request the final exam for Module 17.