Fill ‘er Up, Please! Eric Mussen, Extension Apiculturist. 3/20/13
To glean information on better beekeeping management and techniques, do you tend to sidestep formal conference presentations in favor of informal meetings at a local coffee shop? That’s what national surveys indicate. Not to worry. We now have the country’s largest beekeeping coffee shop that can bring the experiences of thousands of beekeepers to you.
And it’s free. You don’t have to buy the coffee or wait for a refill or tip the waiters.
It’s the online “Bee Informed Partnership.” You can go to http://beeinformed.org/ and see up-to-date summaries of all the data that the nation’s beekeepers – more than 5,000 so far – have submitted to the site. Thus, you can access information on what worked and what didn’t from thousands of beekeepers in the national coffee shop, not just your handful of friends in the local area.
The Bee Informed Partnership is well into its third year. There is just about enough data to begin to break down the survey responses into specific sub-segments such as: regions of the country, size of operation, participants in crop pollination, etc. However, in order to make the findings valuable for commercial operators, more commercial beekeepers need to submit data.
Participation in the program is free and totally anonymous (covered by federal and state laws). When you decide to participate, you will be presented with two electronic survey forms to complete. One is on “winter” losses (but this covers the entire year) and the other is on management practices and how effective you found them to be. The expectation is that the surveys will be submitted quarterly. The good news is that each new survey form arrives pre-loaded with your last data. You change only what is different from the last time and submit it.
The new survey season begins March 29 and remains open until April 15. By then, participants will know a lot about their wintering success or lack thereof. I strongly suggest that you take the time to become involved in this program. Besides data summaries, there are graphics of the data (which I prefer to tables any day). Additionally, some of us are allowed to comment when we think that the results could be a bit misleading, based on small sample sizes or specific biases in the respondent group.
The national coffee shop is open. Your fellow beekeepers await your presence and your experiences and views. Please “bee” there at http://beeinformed.org/ .