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Technology and Beekeeping

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For as long as I’ve been a beekeeper, since 2006, I’ve wanted to combine my love for technology with my love for beekeeping. This website is but one attempt of mine to do such a thing. It has long been my goal to offer a web based app to keep track of your hives. I’ve got most of it working and it’s pretty well thought out if I do say so myself. Why then haven’t I released it? I had a set back with a corrupted hard drive. It took months to duplicate the work. I now have several backups. Then my wife and I had our first child, a little boy. And since his birth I’ve spent a lot of time with him. Then I learned about Beetight and HiveTracks. Proof that I’m not the first to come up with the idea and certainly not the first to implement it.

Enough with the excuses already. I simply want to combine my two loves into one. I will do that if if takes me eons to complete. Why? Because my mind won’t give me a break until I do. So until that time comes, or our good Lord returns, please keep me in mind and ask me how things are going. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to make useful tools for others. I hope to have something to share before the end of this year, 2011.

So other than the hive records, what other ideas have I been cooking up? How about:

Ideas (apparently not unique to me)

A embedded linux system with sensors that monitors:

  • Temperature both inside and outside the hive

  • Humidity both inside and outside the hive

  • Hive weight

  • A sound monitoring device based on the apidictor that monitors for swarms, but digital by design

  • On board data storage

  • Various communication channel modules to send data to data processing computers (think sms,gprs,edge,hdspa,3g,4g,wifi,dongle,usb,serial,zigby)

Today I learned of even more kindred spirit out there known as the BeeHacker from friend Bryan Stalcup. Cool name BeeHacker! It appears he, as well as others if you read the comments, have also had similar ideas. There seems to be varying degrees of progress made by others. But one thing is clear, we all desire the same things.

There is one last idea, that as far as I’m aware of is all my own at this point in time. With progress being made on data collection for beekeepers and web apps reporting systems in place there are 2 things missing that I’d like to see.

  1. An open source data input API (XML-RPC, REST, SOAP) that these data collection units could submit data to these websites on your behalf

  2. A common open source data definition that these websites output their data (JSON,XML) that researchers could consume to glean important information about the state of the honeybees.

These two API’s would allow for various front-ends to be developed and data input into them using a combination of automation and manual human intervention. And various data reporting tools, feeds, and reports, that can aggregate all the data into one large picture.

What good is it to have all this data if it isn’t to make use of it? What good is it if the worlds beehives’ data is split between multiple store houses? Silos of information that leave holes. All this effort should be focused into one collective where the big picture can be derived.

I will continue working on my ideas and projects. But I’m tired of seeing others get mention for the same ideas while I sit idly by. I know I’m not the first to think of these things. I’m certainly not the first to implement them. But when these ideas come to me, they don’t come to me by way of another. Every time I hear of my ideas though I go “Shoot! Really?” Why didn’t I just speak up? So now I’m speaking up. I can not get mad at myself over this one. And if you’re reading this and you too had the idea of marrying the automated data inputs to the data stores, congratulations. It’s a good idea. It needs to be done. Please consider helping me in some way.

That’s a load off. These are exciting times for the Beekeeper. What with all the press and attention, bees are cool. They’re a heck of a lot of fun too. Beekeepers are a historically inventive bunch too. Most of the inventions are to scratch one individual’s itch though and rarely make it to a retailer’s shelf.

I’ve enjoyed sharing this and hope I can keep up the momentum. I have several other things I want to get on here. Poke me if you haven’t heard from me in a couple of days.

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