Data Management Plan

This document describes the data collection, format, storage, data access and public sharing of The Bee Informed Partnership, Inc. (BIP) honey bee health database. It also delineates the roles and responsibilities of those who have developed this software, those who contribute and those who use the data. This document details the levels of security and encryption that BIP practices to protect all data. At all times, BIP invests in and follows the latest updates in technology to ensure the security of the data.

1.) Expected data type

Honey bee health and peripheral data include, but is not limited to, colony health and descriptive measures, lab diagnostic analyses, management actions, environmental variables such as dates, location, weather, proximity to landscape features, and participant contact information.

2.) Data format

The data may initially be collected by web and mobile applications, custom electronic hardware such as hive scales, or paper records that are later transcribed into a web application. Additionally, data from external sources can be accessed through RESTful APIs. RESTful APIs are representational state transfer (REST) technology, an architectural style and methodology to communications often used

in web services development. API is an application program interface or set of tools used to build software applications.

3.) Data storage and preservation

Data are stored in the BIP database, which is an online, relational PostgreSQL database of honey bee health information. The public interface for this database is at BIP’s approach is a customer-oriented data management interface where data are entered directly to individual customer accounts from the various labs and locations where BIP works. Using modern and secure web technology including SSL, user session security is comparable to e-commerce sites people use on a daily basis.

A backup of the database is automatically generated each night. The program runs daily backups, and these are kept permanently on a separate storage service to protect against loss and enable historic recovery if the need arises.

4.) Data sharing and public access

The web server uses SSL encryption to protect data transferred over the network and login accounts with various levels of access configurable by the database administrators to allow or disallow users with access to the system to view, update, create, or delete records as appropriate. Select individuals have access to manage records collected. These data are not publicly accessible in their original form, while aggregate views of the data may be distributed to create broader understanding of trends in bee health. In these cases, no personally identifiable information is released, and steps are taken to abstract identities and locations. For example, varroa levels may be reported on a county or state level if it is not generally known that a single beekeeper is participating in that county for the particular program. Extra attention is given to protect identities of commercial beekeepers due to the belief that reporting the number of colonies owned by an individual could identify that individual. For example, in the Colony Loss Survey, losses by state are redacted if fewer than 10 beekeepers respond in a state.

In addition to providing ‘enterprise’ solutions for bee labs and coordinated BIP projects, the BIP database also provides individual beekeeper data management. Any user can create an account on the system and utilize a selection of the services we provide. These services adapt over time depending on funding sources and other opportunities to support the beekeeping community.

In cases where a researcher requests data to perform analysis, the BIP Data Management Committee will evaluate the request. The committee will determine if the requested data exist, if another researcher is already working on the topic and what steps would need to be taken to protect individual identities to provide the data. If approved, the researcher will have to agree to the BIP Data Request Protocol which defines how individual identities should be protected and fair use of the data. This researcher will also be required to take and pass the online ethics class (Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI)) required by all our team members. Costs will also incur from preparation of the data. In most cases, it will be more feasible to fund BIP to do the analysis of interest instead of external researchers obtaining the data and conducting analysis themselves (example: a company that produces varroacides wants to better understand what products people are using).

5.) Roles and responsibilities

BIP is responsible for the IT, data management of the honey bee health database. Anyone that creates an account through BIP’s online services, must agree to BIP’s EULA (end user license agreement) to use the site.

6.) Monitoring and reporting

Create, update, and delete actions by users are recorded via an audit system that stores the details of the change as a record in the database. The code behind the data interface is managed through GitHub, a software version control system, where each change in the code is tracked and associated with the programmer that changed it. Aggregate data available on the public site are updated within 24 hours as new entries are made. Google Analytics are in place to be able to determine reach from these outputs. 


We are a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization governed by a Board of Directors that represents a mix of commercial beekeepers, top beekeeping scientists and epidemiologists, and business professionals.

If you’d like to help us improve help honey bee health please consider sending a donation through our Donation Page.

Be Involved. Be Included.Bee Informed.