Archive for June, 2013

  • HiveTracks Review

    Date: 2013.06.17 | Category: Uncategorized | Response: 2

    We have mentioned before that HiveTracks is an online way to keep beekeeping records and be able to access it from multiple devices. This is my impression of this program having used it for a few months now.
    To begin, you must set up your online bee yards with a regular online computer (not ipad or other device). This took a little clicking around to find how best to make the program fit my situation, but after the first yard and first hive, it was rather easy and fun. Building the hives with the graphics was an unexpected surprise because they turn different colors according to how you rate their strength. (I have questions on how to best rate the strength of a hive, so I just rated mine relative to the other hives in the same yard.) Once you have your set-up done on the computer, then you can use other mobile devices like an ipad or a smart phone in the field. There is a place to link to photos, so I took photos of each hive. However, you don’t actually upload the photos to the HiveTracks site. You have to upload to a service like Flickr or Picassa, which are online photo sharing sites. Then in HiveTracks, you are able to LINK to that photo. It sounds like more of a pain than it really is. The worst part is having to make up yet another log in user name and password for the photo sharing service. You only have to set up the photo site once also…just remember your password.  (It does get easier.)
    So now you are ready to do an inspection of the hive. The inspection section has a lot of check boxes that make it fast, like… seeing the queen, seeing brood, temperament, weather conditions etc. The most useful thing to me is the simple notes/comments section. That is where I put information quickly that I want to know at a glance for next time. Even stuff like, “this is the only hive that has the odd size supers and frames.” Also helpful is noting where equipment repairs or replacement is needed. We have done the inspection where one person inspects, and the other (usually me) gets to sit on the four wheeler and put information into the ipad. If you were by yourself, though, this would not be convenient. My solution is to record yourself talking through the inspection onto your phone or whatever, and then just play it back and enter the information later. Or, you could call your spouse on the phone, put them on speaker phone, then talk through the inspection and they can enter the information while they sip tea and sit at the computer in the air conditioning. Oh… that sounds fair… yea, right.
    If you want to get REALLY tech savy, then this program can generate a barcode that you print out and post on the hive. Yes, you read that correctly! A barcode, then you just scan it with your free barcode reader app on your smartphone and you are instantly taken to the correct hive notes on HiveTracks. It totally works too, even with a faded printout.
    This program may not be for you, especially if you don’t really like to use a computer, or hate to type, or aren’t interested in impressing your brother-in-law with the barcode thing. It’s true that there is a fair amount of set up, but if you look at it as a tool, then the set up time is worth it, and can be rather fun.
    …Katie

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