Initial Tuning Trials - User Location and Mites

Our first Tuning requests prioritized the collection of TEST uploads so that we could better visualize where we have good geographical coverage, and where gaps still exist. Our second Kickstarter tip asked to prioritize recordings of colonies with and without MITESsince many beekeepers in the northern hemisphere would be extracting honey and conducting mite surveys, whether for their own bee management, the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) survey, or another survey.

Now that everyone has had time to use the app, we need to get serious about tuning the app. Those of us in the northern states probably will have to wait until next spring, but users in coastal and southern states still have actively foraging colonies. In the Southern hemisphere, bee season is just beginning.

To help us flag data sets for specific colony health variables, we ask everyone to add a code to the Hive ID when creating a report. The general format we'd like to see everyone use is that when recording a colony, either for tuning for a specific hive pest or disease variable or when either seeing or getting an AI analysis report of the presence of a specific variable. Please add a tag to the Hive ID on the report screen that asks for a Hive ID and Location.

We don't worry much about the Location - if the GPS function is working. Location is mostly for the individual user's convenience; e.g., Home Apiary, Smith Farms, Dry Creek, etc. Hive ID is critical to both the user for hive management and to our use for properly sorting each hive by its identifier and associating it with any and all AI analyses, Recordings, Reports, Notes, and Photographs. For example, for our own hives, we might Identify a hive by a number and year and the location as one of three registered apiaries. For example, Hive ID 001_2019 would be Hive 1 for 2019. This format allows us a code for up to 999 hives. The yearly date is very helpful for our records. Hive Location of Ft Missoula designates that this hive is in our locked, fenced, apiary. Now, if I'm surveying for mites, using alcohol washes, I would tag the Hive ID by adding code. Thus Hive ID 001_2019 for a given date, which the app automatically adds, would be Hive ID 001_2019_Mites_11. Then, when creating a report, I'd add a note using the pencil button that the mite count was obtained for 100 bees from the brood nest via a mite wash.

Additional Tuning Trials and Codes

Varroa mites (Hive ID Mites #): Early in September, we asked everyone to prioritize recording, inspecting, and uploading data sets from hives with and without varroa mites. Of special interest was recordings and mite counts obtained by alcohol washes or from sticking traps. Since varroa mites are nearly a global problem, we would like to see as many of these data sets as possible. Please add a Mites # tag to the Hive ID so we can rapidly identify these data sets from the added word mites and a mite count number. Please use the pencil button when creating a report. Note how the mite count was acquired - alcohol wash, sticky trap, et
Small Hive Beetle (Hive ID SHB #): So far these are more or less absent in Montana, but the beetle populations should be peaking in southern states. As with mites, we really need lots of data sets from hives without SHB beetles, and from hives with SHB beetles. Please identify Small Hive Beetle data sets by adding to the Hive ID the initials for Small Hive Beetle (SHB) plus a count number. Again, when creating inspection reports, tap the pencil button to add a note about how the count was obtained. Was a Swiffer or Beetle Blaster Traps used, or another method (visual count of beetles scurrying about), etc,/ Please state how long the traps had been in the hive.

Queenright (Q+) and queenless (Q-) (Hive ID (Q+ or Q-)): Some app users who re-queen in the fall, have reported no sound difference. That outcome may reflect a need for complete re-tuning for this variable. However, the sound that bees make when a colony goes queenless may take 24-48 hours to change, and the queenless sound will eventually disappear with time, as the colony either succeeds in replacing the queen or fails and stops broadcasting a queenless sound. Therefore, for queenless colonies, we need to know 'how long' the colony has been queenless. Again, it helps us recognize data sets if you add a marker to the Hive ID, preferably queenright as Q+, queenless as Q-.

Foul Brood (Hive ID FB): Whenever foulbrood is detected, please record and tag the Hive ID with AFB for American Foulbrood, EFB for European Foulbrood. For this factor, the inspection report has buttons to indicate infection severity. Please use the pencil button to add more specific information such as the number of cells of foulbrood (for low levels of foulbrood), or the number of frames affected for severe cases of foulbrood. Also, note how you verified the type of foulbrood - ropey test, Vita Health AFB or EFB test kit? If in doubt, take a picture using the camera button under the Create a Report form.

Dead-Out, Not Normal, Failing: The Not Normal AI analyses at the moment flags colonies that lack normal sound patterns, whether Failing or having Died Out. We want to be able to separate these factors.

Failing Colony (Hive ID Fail): Whenever you encounter a Failing Colony, please tag the Hive ID as Hive ID Fail. When creating an Inspection Report, click Yes on the Failing Button, and then use the Pencil to add a note to describe the condition of the colony. Add pictures if that would be helpful. Again, use the camera function contained under the App's Reporting, don't exit the app to use your camera, and then send separate pictures. We want all data to be uploaded in association with the appropriate recordings. By using the app for all reporting, we will get the data in the proper format, with the proper hive recording.

Dead-Out Colony (Hive ID Dead): What we really need everyone to do, and this may seem silly, but please obtain recordings of any dead-out colonies. Use the pencil note button to describe the Dead Out. Does it have dead bees on the bottom board, in front of the hive, any live bees? or does it have not bees at all or only a queen and a handfull of live bees? Photos using the camera button under creating a report would be greatly appreciated. Simulated Dead-Out When pulling and extracting honey, please take the time to make-up simulated dead-outs using your own equipment. Before extracting, put together 1, 2, or 3-story hives consisting of a bottom board, supers with honey, and a cover, plus any inner covers, slatted or screened bottom boards, etc. that you typically use. Do in a quiet space. Record using the app.

We want to compare recordings of healthy colonies in your equipment, so also record some of these. For the simulated dead-out, please set up hives in the same equipment setup. as you typically use. After extracting, please put together the same setup with the wet, empty frames, and record again. Use the Pencil function under the create a report to tell us exactly how you set up your hives and the equipment used, whether conventional 10-frame Langstroth, top-bar, Warr, etc. Even it's only one of your hives, with bees and honey, one with honey but no bees, and one with drawn comb, no honey, and no bees, the data will be useful. Ideally, recording each set up with at least three hives would be better.
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Africanized Bee (Hive ID AHB): This factor requires either PCA or morphometric analyses which is beyond the capability of most app users. A few of our users are in Africa and have access to African bees, South America where specialists studying generations of Africanized bees and a state that quarantines suspected AHB colonies. If you can verify AHB, then we want recordings. If a colony is just nasty tempered, we don't want recordings tagged as AHB. If these colonies can be verified as being aggressive European bees, not AHB, please provide the evidence in a note.

Nosema cerenae (Hive ID Nosema): N. ceranae and N. apis are of interest, but these require PCA or a microscope for confirmation. We recommend in our online courses that every beekeeper obtains a microscope. If you suspect that a colony has Nosemosis and have confirmed via microscopy or laboratory analyses, then we really want your recordings, inspections, and notes. Again, any quantitative estimate like spore counts is highly useful. Note under Hive ID and Location as HiveID Nosema #).

Professional Beekeepers, Researchers with Controlled Experiments: Professional, Experienced, Trained Researchers, Serious Hobbyists may have multiple colonies and rigorously test. For these users, please email us at [email protected]. We will work with you to streamline the reporting. For example, in September we worked with a commercial beekeeper who alcohol-washed 83 colonies. We had the recordings with Hive IDs uploaded, and the Mite Wash counts emailed directly to us.