Ever since the BIP Tech Teams were established in California and Minnesota, we have been thinking about a tagging system to differentiate colonies that are part of the sampling process and those that are not. We also want to keep an organized, easily accessible way to let the teams and beekeepers view colony data, mostly Nosema and Varroa loads, on the go without having to page through massive amounts of information in a spreadsheet. Our tagging system, being debuted for the first time this fall sampling season, seeks to see how we can accomplish making our data manageable involving PVC cards, weatherproof labels and unique identifiers.
First, each colony that is involved in BIP testing will have two PVC cards. One PVC card will be printed with a beekeeper code, the hive number, and BIP logo, while the second card will have a weatherproof label on it reading FALL 2012, or the current sampling period. Both of these cards are stapled to the hive. The first card containing the beekeeper code will stay on the hive for the life of its sampling, only to be removed if the colony is removed from the sampling pool.
Once Nosema and Varroa are processed for the first sampling period, another weatherproof label will be placed on the second PVC card with this data directly over top of and covering the “Fall 2012 label”. For the spring sampling period, another label will be placed on the PVC tag reading “Spring 2013” to note to current sampling period. Once Nosema and Varroa counts are processed for spring sampling another label will be placed on the same card so that there is an easily accessible record of current and historical data.
To maintain integrity of the samples, each sample includes the beekeeper code, the state it was sampled in, the type of sample and the date of the sample. This is all connected with a unique identifying sample number. The purpose of all of this enables the colony to be searchable in the BIP master database. Once the specific code is entered, all colony data will be brought up, allowing us to track the colony’s health over the course if the lifetime of the queen.
We hope that this system will work best for the beekeepers and Tech Teams, and also that the pilot testing this past season will give us more insight as to what works and what doesn’t. We are always open to suggestions, improvements and comments in order to make the tagging system simple and intuitive for all involved. Once you start sampling and managing data from hundreds of colonies, something as simple as labeling is no longer so simple.