One day while browsing some message boards, I stumbled across a free web based tool called Hive Tracks that beekeepers could use to keep records on what's going on amongst their bees. It was developed by a couple of computer gurus in Western North Carolina who also happen to keep bees.
The software allows you to set up multiple bee yards and even uses the address of the yard to fill in the GPS coordinates and the weather conditions. I don't use the weather feature because I use Hive Tracks' handy paper form to record my inspections to input on the website later. So, I usually just hit The Weather Channel's website on my Blackberry when I get to the bee yard to lock in the time and weather information so I don't have to estimate when I do my updates.
One of the neatest features I've found is the hive builder tool, which allows the user to construct a graphical representation of all of the components that make up a particular hive. It also allows you to change the construction of individual hives as you add or take away components during the year.
You can also keep records about the queen that is inside each hive including her race, the marking color (if any), date she was installed and any comments about her.
It's a pretty cool gadget, no doubt. I'm still struggling to remember to carry along my clipboard full of blank inspection forms, but I'm trying. If I can stay disciplined in using it, I'm hoping that it will provide me with data on what factors made things within particular hives go right or go wrong so that I can duplicate successes and hopefully avoid failures. If you keep bees, I'd encourage you to visit the Hive Tracks site and see what you think.
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If you're interested in learning more about beekeeping, join a local beekeepers association as well as your state's beekeepers association. Explore your state's master beekeeper program if they have one. The following links can get you started:
U.S. State Beekeeping Clubs
South Carolina Beekeepers Association
Local Beekeepers Associations in South Carolina
South Carolina Master Beekeeper Program
Georgia Beekeepers Association
Local Beekeepers Associations in Georgia
Georgia Master Beekeeper Program
North Carolina State Beekeepers Association
Local Beekeepers Associations in North Carolina
North Carolina Master Beekeeper Program