While nothing beats the feel and smell of a book in your hands, there are some mobile apps that might have just the information you are looking for. I put together an app collection for managing hives, staying on top of bee news, connecting with others, planning a garden, pass the time or serving as a conversation starter.
Bio Bees: Mobile version of the popular beekeeping site biobees.com. A plethora of information on natural beekeeping, of which I have only scratched the service. Nice collection of podcasts, video posts etc from the always informative Barefoot Beekeeper. I love his top bar beekeeping book as well.
Honeylove.org: Honeylove.org is a non-profit organization promoting urban beekeeping in LA. This app houses video content, including some of the best waggle dancing footage ever, done like only LA would. The org’s website is fantastic and makes me long for something oh soo swanky as a yellow-tie event in Seattle. Their shop is full of great gifts too. It is not all LA, one of the featured videos is from right here in Seattle, The Flight Path Project at the Common Acre. Download the app and enjoy the videos and learn a few things too. NOTE: I WILL be making black and yellow bow tie for the hubs collection.
Beekeeping Forum: A hand held forums for bee keeping, hives, honey, honey products, help, questions and more. Based on the web versions, also includes some article and news etc. Great for perusing, seeing what are the hot questions and repository of information. Topics range from bee medicinal, blueprints, swarms and alternatives bees. Some geographical sorting available. Free and handy!
Honeybee Helpers by Heritage Farms: An interesting app with a quiz, some live video feeds in the hives, state bee facts and a nifty anatomy overview. Good thing it is free as pretty limited in terms of information and I will likely uninstall if I can’t get the hive video feed to work (granted it was night when I was playing around) but the skep image looks great on my phone and I like the anatomy portion. It also links out to Haagen-Dazs (yes the ice cream), a company in clear support of the honeybee.
BeesMe: This free app is pretty simple with logically organized basic beekeeping information. What sets this app apart is its month by month description of what to be doing in the hive. Of note, it is out of the UK, so some of the recommendations may not be applicable to your local. It also has a forum to facilitate interaction with other beeks.
Hive Management Tools
Beekeeper Lite: This free app is designed to help track your hives and inspections/observations. You can add multiple hive locations, add hives, and track details of visits, including pictures etc. I added my three current hives and can see how this could be helpful, however, I can’t figure out how to delete locations or hives and the data does not appear to be backed up anywhere, so you would risk losing seasons worth of data if you deleted app etc. It also doesn’t appear downloadable, so if you are recording observations in pursuit of Journeyman or Master Beekeeper, this might not be the right platform.
There is another similar app, Hive Manager, that is $14.99/year. It looks to be much more detailed in terms of data recorded.
Another online hive management tool with associated app is beetight.com. You can sign up for free and manage up to 6 hives online but not via the app. More hives or want the app? Upgrade to the Pro version, which includes the mobile app and you can add up to a 1000 hives (holy guacamole!), for $15/year. Lots of cues about what to observe, do and record. I am going to use the beetight.com online tool this year [and uninstall the beekeeper lite and beetight.com app] to see how it plays out in the real world. Stay tuned! BBE-tech has also assembled an indepth evaluation of these tools.
BeeCalc: Handy calculators for common beekeeper math. Just plug in your numbers to find out answer like how much honey and wax to expect from a super, how much frame wire you might need based on umber and frame depth and generally useful metric conversions (temperature, distance, weight etc). from the beekeeping.org website.
Beeyond the Hive
BeeSmart: A free app designed to help you plan the best garden and landscaping for your pollinator friends. This app is free and includes geo-location specific plant recommendations: for bees to hummingbirds, bats, beetles and butterflies. Enter your zip code, then choose a target pollinator, color, sun requirement, soil type (e.g. loamy, acidic)and plant type (e.g. annual, tree, vine). From here the app provides you with a list of NATIVE plants for your region that meet your criteria. You can then click on the plan and learn more about it and also add it to your favorites. Definitely useful tool for garden and yard planning. The list will seem shorter since it focuses on native plants (read: I love lavender but it doesn’t come up for my region).
Honey Health: Repository of information about honey applications in health and beauty. I would caution against relying on this app for quality information. I think they are stretching the facts of honey too far. That said, the About Honey portion of the app contains useful information. I do wash my face with honey regularly and use it as an acne spot treatment (thanks to Crunchy Betty) but I won’t be turning over my every ailment to this liquid gold any time soon. There is better research and resources out there for medicinal benefits of honey than this app, in particular the use of honey on bed sores and slow healing wounds and pollen for attenuating seasonal allergies. But, face it, honey tastes delicious, feels good in the mouth and why wouldn’t you find a reason to add it to your daily life.
There are also apps for candle making and other DIY crafts.Honeybee Research
Honeybee Mapper: This app from the savethehives.com group supports their efforts to build a national database of hives, designed to further research into Colony Collapse Disorder and other honey bee health issues. The app has an updated roster of podcasts and honeybee research articles, links for schools (ecology, stewardship and behavior topics) and bee photo gallery. This might be a useful tool for local beekeeping groups to utilize – not much in the way of registered hives in my neck of the woods though. The app doesn’t appear to have the information on beelining that is on website, so take a detour and check that out too. I think my main utilization of this app will be for the meta-search results. I have something similar delivered to my email daily but think this on demand version suits me better.
Cute as Can Bee – Picture Me: This app has nothing to do with keeping bees and everything to do with getting a few laughs and maybe intrigue some people into learning more about bees, or at least you (or completely creep them out). Basically you take a photo of yourself (Selfie!), the free app then makes a story all about you complete with tinkling music and thick plot line (joking). A great way to pass time and you can bet my Mom is going to get a copy of this. Picture me…..
Disco Bees: A game app centered on lining up like objects in a row to clear them (a la Candy Crush, Bejeweled, Chuzzle, Connect 4, Tic-Tac-Toe….). It is a bit trickier on the eyes as the shapes are hexagon honeycombs and while the levels I have played thus far are pretty easy, it is still rewarding to see the bees do the waggle dance in celebration. Mindless, yes, but cute bee graphics, a great way to bring up the waggle dance and maybe built a few new neuronal pathways. Pretty sure adult beekeepers are their target demographic given the flower power hipbee character, Euro 80s Punk bee level and reference to Notorious BIG – “Mo Honey Mo Problems”. Among the cleverly named levels, are two about Zombees on Earth and Mars … how very timely. More info https://www.zombeewatch.org/ It’s free and a way to pass the time waiting at the DMV or for the more active months of beekeeping….
Bee Leader: Another free-bee game, sort of like Angry Birds or Robot Unicorn (missed that one? Too bad.) I found it hard to control (maybe I need to work on my coordination) and grew weary quickly. Cute graphics and quite a few levels though. It does teach about pollination although the bee will chose red flowers at the same frequency of other colors, which we know is not always true.
Honey Boo Boo – just kidding!
So which apps will I bee keeping?
I would love to hear about your beekeeping app and website experiences!