We have made the very difficult decision to take down the BIP Hive Scale Portal. Below we have outlined the reasons we cannot continue to support the portal at this time. We are hopeful that in the future we can secure the time, funds and resources to allow us to develop a new and improved portal that integrates with our other update systems. Until then, your hive scale will continue to send data to the vendor where you can retrieve it.
So why is the Hive Scale Portal hosted by the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) going offline? Back in 2014, BIP built a new database platform based on the latest open source programming libraries at the time. BIP already had an ASP.NET platform built in 2011 that we were migrating away from for strategic reasons. During this time, the BIP Hive Scale Portal was a separate platform designed in 2013 and maintained by our Grand Valley State University (GVSU) collaborators. In 2017, BIP initiated and completed a merging of the separate Hive Scale Portal and BIP’s new platform available at Research.beeinformed.org. This made a one stop database resource for all BIP programs. In 2022, BIP began a major update of our open source programming libraries. As mentioned, this platform was originally designed in 2014. Although many updates had occurred between 2014 and 2022, the primary base libraries of the user interfaces needed to be replaced to be able to develop new features to our system using modern and current practices. This update took five months with three people writing over 21,000 lines of new computer code while removing 125,000+ lines of code. It was a major project. BIP chose to invest in updating our system to take BIP well into another decade of serving the honey bee industry with the latest web development abilities. During our revamp, we have looked closely at each and every program and made strategic decisions based on economic sustainability and the momentum of many exciting and existing programs that have a promising strong future such as our Tech Team Services, the annual Loss and Management Survey, the Sentinel Apiary Program, and Varroa monitoring tools for beekeepers of all sizes. During this process, we have decided to retire the current hive scale portal components of the database. That does not mean however the data are gone nor that BIP citizen scientist efforts were wasted.
One of the most interesting and exciting features of the BIP Hive Scale Portal is the annotations feature. The annotations feature allowed hive scale users to annotate their data in response to weight change indicators on their charts. Beekeepers recorded if the weight change was due to swarms, supering, removing honey, or details about other anomalies. These annotations number at 1,942 by 66 dedicated citizen scientists since 2014. We are contacting our most recent contributors to notify them about the change and provide assistance with accessing their annotation records. But what about the hive weight data? A total of 313 beekeepers created accounts and accessed their hive scale data on the portal. Beekeepers with current active hive scales will retain access to their data through their hive scale vendors. The BIP Hive Scale Portal collected literally millions of hive weight records from vendors creating both many challenges in data storage and processing, but also a great untapped potential for research. These data are safely secured on BIP’s servers and we are considering new ways to leverage this data to gain insight into honey bee health, while prioritizing the services we see ourselves aligned with to make the most immediate and significant impacts. We greatly thank all the beekeepers that helped make the BIP Hive Scale Portal a successful experience in the electronic monitoring of beehives.
It is with a heavy heart that we are taking the portal offline at this time. As part of our current strategic planning process we will look for ways to integrate hive scales into our future research and citizen science programs.