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Tuesday, March 10th, 2009 | Author:

British Govt Attempts National Beekeeper DatabaseNational Bee Database to be set up to monitor colony collapse

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 10:16PM GMT 09 Mar 2009

Britain’s 20,000 amateur beekeepers have been asked to register their insects on a national database in a bid to halt the dramatic decline of the honey bee…

The register, funded by the Department for the Environment, will be used to monitor health trends and help establish for certain whether the £30 million honey industry is under threat from the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder.

Theories about the cause of the decline in the bee population, which has seen nearly one in three hives collapse, include climate change and an infestation by the Varroa mite. READ REST at the Telegraph…

My Questions:

  1. Would beekeepers in the u.S.A ever voluntarily join a national database managed by the U.S. Federal Government?
  2. What does £4.3 million really buy??
  3. Does registering with a government database include creating a GIS from this database? Who owns the data? Since it should be public data, will the database be available in real-time on the Internet for other researchers to use?
  4. Making the data publicly available opens the research potential, but at what costs to the beekeeper’s privacy? How much data are they “invited” to submit to the database?
  5. Don’t privacy concerns about “a beek’s girls” and business interests get trumped by the dire consequences of failing to understand what’s happening worldwide?
  6. Will joining such a database subject the beekeeper to new regulation, oversight and intrusion by (presumably inept) government controllers?

The UK will provide lessons to the North Americans who still can’t get a dime from their government to do real research on the bees. I’m talking federal money for thousands of GPS tagged hives like the rest of the modern world uses to track anything. Basic logic says we need to know where (commercial) hives are going to analyze the data about what they were exposed to, for how long, with which other bees, from where (Australia?), etc. We need data for a GIS, and it can’t be chicken scratched on plastic bags with sharpies, only (dead bees). In the U.S., it seems that the privatized mind thinks that research money should only come from private interests, like Haagan Daaz or the Almond Industry, or the military. Does this opinion come from a jaded viewpoint that federal funding means loss of control and more potential suffocating regulation, a lack of trust in government?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009 | Author:

SavethehivesIt’s been almost a year since I began my CCD Mapping website, which has yet to launch… Nice to get motivated by another fantastic mapping project, the Feral Bee Project, “a site focused on creating a national database of feral honey bee populations.” Ronnie Bouchon built the site himself from the ground up using Google’s API and Google spreadsheets. Hat’s off to this committed human being! Some people in my beekeeping club actually thought it was a bad idea to map feral colonies, out of some fear that people would go mess with them now that they knew where there were. Overprotective bee lovers?

The possibilities of using the Feral Bee Project’s data to build heat maps and do other analysis excites me to get my participatory CCD mapping site off the ground. As Ronnie has done, I am ever-evaluating the mapping technologies and Google’s tools are tempting. I like the benefits of his site design: no “user log-in” or “registration” to thwart the average nature-not-computer lover, no submission approval process (not yet warranted, he reports), and a nice interface for finding your place on the map. But I’ve always been partial to hosting all of my project data on my own sites, instead of relying on Google spreadsheets hosted who knows where. It is fantastic to have all the data in an accessible spreadsheet, however, instead of buried in some SQL database, IMO.

The sensitivity about mapping colony collapse disorder events makes such an open methodology difficult to gain acceptance, I’ve assumed. Perhaps that assumption is wrong. Now that we have something of a definitive list of symptoms and patterns being published this month about how to recognize CCD, perhaps a community-generated dataset won’t be filled with speculative points that may dilute the value and accuracy of the data collected. What do you think? I’ll invite Ronnie Bouchon to comment. His site, Savethehives.com lists another project in the works and it would be great to get an update on how that is going.
Savethehives Map

“With all the media coverage and public awareness of Colony Collapse Disorder, there is still not a single database of reported cases of CCD. The CCD Map would be provide a web-based approach for collecting and presenting reported cases of CCD in a way that could help researchers and government agencies understand this national crisis. This national database of information will be centrally maintained and available to research programs and universities.”

- Savethehives.com

Ronnie, any news about the CCD mapping project? What have been your biggest hurdles and what do your collaborators in the beekeeping world say about creating a CCD map? Comment here for us. ;)

Saturday, February 07th, 2009 | Author:


This snapshot of Colony Collapse Disorder news stories comes from 2007. It’s been the only Colony Collapse Disorder news .kml file on the Net for a long time. Why is that?… It’s become stale, some of the original website source links are broken, but the the summaries exist and it’s interesting none the less. David Grogan was a student at Tufts University when he manually created this map using RSS and google. I’m working on an updated version that automagically updates the map with new stories from google news, similar to how www.healthmap.org works.

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