Doing it Write This Season
By Camilla Bee, Editor
We have the greatest of intentions. We tuck a small notebook in the pocket of our beesuit and head to the apiary, ready to jot down what we find as we check the hives. Or, we hang a clipboard on the hook where we hang our veil. Surely that will remind us to write down what we find when we return.
Some of us are great at recording what happens in our apiaries. It is important information.
And some of us? Not so much.
I’ve got an extensive Word document detailing what happened in my apiary last year … until September. I know things happened in September—important things. I combined a few hives, offing queens that were golly, first year or did I off the second year queen? I know the one to the left of the pine was weak going into winter, but here in February it is still depositing fallen comrades out the front step on nicer days. Was it the one to the right of the pine that was weak instead? And I know one of the three by the bushes didn’t take any supplemental feed. Was that the one that died? Why oh why oh why didn’t I keep up my Word document last September?
Several issues ago I asked readers what works for them so we could share it. Here’s some of your feedback:
[quote style="1"]It’s the first time that I have read your newsletter … It is really interesting and thought provoking. I really like to compare our British beekeeping with how it is done in America.
You want to know how people track their hives. Often we are encouraged to have a card in the hive lid (mine always blew away in the wind), but I have found that I need the records in two places: at the hive and at home to review, plan and check what it was like last year. So I have two notebooks.
The first is a small ringbound book that I take to the hive. I note down about each hive, weather, number of frames harvested, chemical use, feeding etc. I often refer to this at the hive, especially if I have requeened recently. It gets propolised up by the end of the season.
Then when I get home, I transfer these notes to a nice notebook along with the weather, state of forage. I have an apiary layout too. The same book also has the honey records for each batch bottled and also notes from local association meetings. So it builds up as a resource in its own right. I often compare the season with previous ones. I have looked at online records but they never have a layout quite how I want it.
Hope that this is helpful.
[quote style="1"]I use a FREE product that is called “Hive Tracks” (www.hivetracks.com). I like it because when you follow it properly, it leads you through all the questions that need to be answered when working your hives. I also like that it can be reached by any internet browser. So if I am at home or away, I do not need my computer that has the software installed on it. Anyone’s computer with an internet browser will work.
[quote style="1"]I’m a simple guy. I used to keep records (poorly), and never referred back to them anyway, so I now just use what God provides. After I check the hive, I put a stick on the top. It goes parallel to the entrance (like a minus sign) if things are not positive; it goes perpendicular to the entrance (like pointing up (or back) as I look at the hive), if things in that hive seem to be on the up-and-up. I put a small rock near the stick if I’ve found the queen during that hive check. This probably seems silly, but such easy to remember things work for me.
Of course, I only have a half dozen hives, so there isn’t too much to remember anyway.
[quote style="1"]I use an Excel spreadsheet; it lets me track my costs and yields easily as well. I like an electronic record because I can easily search it for, example, everything I did in the “blue hive.”
[quote style="1"]Back of an envelope, side of my “what to check for” when I’m in the hives list, etc.—and then I transfer it to the computer when I’m back inside. I’ve got to do better at it though.
For most of us, the 2012 season is just beginning. This year, let’s do it right by writing it down, each and every time. If there’s something that works for you, please let us know so we can help other help their bees. Contact me at KelleyBeesEditor@gmail.com.