The beekeeping app

HiveSmartHQ Tips 

New to HiveSmartHQ? We add tips here (and also on our FacebookFacebook page) on a regular basis on how to make the most of the app.

This supplements the context-sensitive help that's available throughout the app via the Context-sensitive Help icons.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Sections (Tap to visit)

1. Latest News
2. Forms
3. Currently known Issues & Workarounds
4. Hive Population
5. Usage Tips

1. Latest News 

Included in this version is (optional) tracking of Parts to an Apiary along with a frame-focussed Population Estimator for those using the option to track frame quantities per boxed Hive or Top Bar Hives. (These options can be selected in General Hive Choices via App Options & Settings). There's various other improvements included too.

This version supplements v1.6.0 with an enhanced Hive Population Estimator tool and a tweak to the auto-calculation of the Population for established Hives. It also ensures any input Population values are retained when downloading (via Transfer Data) to another device.

We're aware that the Hive Population estimates being auto-calculated may be a bit over-generous for established Hives in some cases, so we're in the process of making a tweak to the Active Bees calculation and there'll be a version update coming shortly. If you're using the Estimator tool in the meantime, you may wish to input the number of active Honey frames for "# Frames per box" (instead of the total number of Honey Frames).

4-Aug-2019 Update: Any Hive Population values input will be retained when the data is uploaded (via Transfer Data) but will be overwritten by an auto-calculated value if subsequently downloaded. For more details: see the section on currently known Issues.

This version introduces Hive Population tracking and includes an Population Estimator tool to assist this. An overview of your beekeeping operation is also provided on the home window.

A raft of other enhancements and cosmetic changes are included as well.

This version resolves an issue with the mapping option in Hive Locations such that when the GPS/Location Services on the device is switched off a Location finder is now fully triggered.

This version provides additional flexibility for Locations/Apiaries (i.e. ability to "expire" a Location) plus enhanced filtering and report options.

Also included: a range of ease-of-use enhancements and cosmetic changes for both small screen, and larger screen, devices.

This version offers the (optional) ability to track changes in Hive Weight changes between Services (e.g. during Winter as as a gauge to hive health).

Also included: a range of ease-of-use enhancements and cosmetic changes for both small screen, and larger screen, devices.

Older News... (Tap/click to show)

2. Forms: (in PDF format) 

Each form has two pages to support double-sided/duplex printing...

Tap an option to open...

Option A 16x Hives on 2 pages. For those with 20/20 eyesight & small handwriting.
Option B 3 hives/page. For the rest of us.
Option C One hive/page. For those that prefer just one Hive Service/Inspection per page.

FYI: If you've tailored the Hive Condition ratings or Observations in the app, you can update these on the form to match before printing.

Collections form (Tap to open)
Extractions form (Tap to open)
Equipment Inventory form (Tap to open)

3. Currently known Issues & Workarounds 

In Version 1.6.1...

 Issue(s) now resolved (from v1.6.1)

Detail: When attempting to save an Equipment Inventory item, an error message may incorrectly display indicating there's another item with the same name.

Workaround: Make a minor change to the item name (e.g. from "Bee suit" to "Bee suits") - as long as there is a minor adjustment the item (and stock details) will complete the save process. This will be addressed in the next version.

Detail: The stored TBH option of "some" or "all" is not being shown automatically when opening "General Hive Choices".

Workaround: If either of these options is selected at the time the Save Options button is tapped, the option is being stored/saved but just not being displayed on re-selecting General Hive Choices. This will be addressed in the next version.

Tip: Ensure the required option is selected each time before saving.

 General Use Tips

Detail: The multi-Tool: Export feature (via Hive Management) generates a plain text email with Service data. If the sent email is viewed in some versions of Microsoft Outlook, the settings in Outlook may (appear to) truncate each row of data. Copying data from the email as it appears then means that the data cannot be imported into a spreadsheet successfully.

Workaround #1: In Outlook, if the following message is displayed near the email header: This message has extra line breaks then tap the message to remove the truncation prior to copying the data.

Workaround #2: Use different email software to view the email. (e.g. send/forward the email to a gmail or Yahoo email and view the email online and copy the data from that.)

Workaround #3: Update the Microsoft Outlook settings: File > Options > Mail scroll down to Message Format and uncheck the Remove extra line breaks option.

Workaround #4: Update the Microsoft Outlook settings*: Click the Send/Receive tab > Download Preferences: select Download Full Items (* If using Outlook in a corporate environment, this may not be possible)

4. Hive Population 

V1.6.0 introduced the ability to capture a Hive Population value when recording a Service. A Population Estimator tool is also provided in the app when adding/editing a Service - see the Key Hive Features section.

It applies a calculation method that uses the quantity of boxes/frames for the Hive along with several Estimating factors.

If a Hive Population value is not provided, the app automatically calculates a Population estimate using the same method. Changes in the Hive Population are tracked from Service to Service.

Details about the calculation method are provided in this (PDF) document: Hive Population - Calculation method (Tap to open)

For those folk more comfortable with paper and pen, and wish to keep track of the Hive Population using this calculation method, here's a (PDF) form that may assist: Hive Population Estimator form (Tap to open - it has two pages to support double-sided/duplex printing)

5. USAGE TIPS 

Getting Started (Tap/click an item below for more info...)

If you're just starting with HiveSmartHQ you may wish to view some short videos that we've put together to help get you started. (Just tap the links below - video opens in a new window.)

If you're just starting with HiveSmartHQ, we recommend:

  • a one-time check of the Locale Preference to ensure they match your region (via App Options & Settings).
  • reviewing the General Hive Choices to flag the size of Honey Supers & Brood boxes you use (via App Options & Settings) - see next item.
  • reviewing each of the Option Catalogs (via App Options & Settings).

Each Option Catalog is used to provide a list of choices that is used in the app - we've pre-loaded them with some examples but, because every region is different, you'll likely need to refine them to match with your particular needs and geographic area.

For example, the Nectar/Pollen sources might be revised to align with what's available to your bees. Similarly, you might wish to refine the catalog of Diseases to match those prevalent in your area, and the catalog of Treatments to those that you use.

Each Option Catalog allows you to:

  • add new items
  • "replace" existing items in the list (via an "edit")
  • "hide" items (so it's not displayed as a choice)
  • "sort" the items (so that those you use most often are displayed first)

If you're not sure how to do this, feel free to contact us and we'll help step you through it.

Around the world, beekeepers use different size honey boxes for a number of reasons. There's also different names for those various sizes in different parts of the world. The dimensions of each size can also vary depending on your location. Some beekeepers use just one size, others use more than one size. In some regions the Honey boxes are also known as "Supers".

HiveSmartHQ accommodates this geographic variability by providing 3 different size options for Honey boxes essentially small ("½"), medium ("¾") and large ("Full"). In the app, you can choose to use one or more of these sizes - simply select the size(s) that you use in General Hive Choices (via App Options & Settings).

The ones you select will be shown in Hive Management, Honey Extraction and relevant Views (reports). The sizes that you don't select are merely hidden (so you always have the option to start using a different size later).

The Track frames option may be useful to you if you use different numbers of frames in the same box size. If you use just one size of honey box (i.e. same dimensions) but have some with more frames inside, and some with less frames, you can just use the "size" in HiveSmartHQ as a way to differentiate these instead. e.g. an 8-frame = small, a 10-frame = medium and a 12-frame = large.

Take advantage of the flexibility in HiveSmartHQ to match your situation.

After revewing the Locale Preferences, Option Catalogs and Honey box sizes in General Hive Choices (see above), the quickest approach to getting started is to:

  1. Use Hive Locations to add the Locations where you have Hives, then
  2. Use Hive Register, select a Location and add your Hives in for that Location. It's easy to add lots of Hives quickly this way (and it's a one-time process).

Once that initial one-time setup activity is done, you're ready to add the Services (aka inspections) that you do on the Hives via Hive Management.

You might wish to simply try out the app by adding in fake information - which is OK because you can also “reset” everything when you’re ready to use real data.

To reset you have a choice of using either of the following methods:

  1. Use Transfer Data (via App Options and Settings) to download a pre-existing empty database using the following details:
    * Initials: zz
    * Month & day: Jan 1
    * Phone: 9999
    OR
  2. Remove/Uninstall HiveSmartHQ from your device and then re-install it.

Bee aware: both methods will replace any data that you have entered in HiveSmartHQ as well as any options you've changed in the app.

(Note: You won’t want to "reset" if you’ve already entered real data or boosted your Service Credit balance with a bundle purchase.)

Hive Locations (aka Yards, Apiaries) 

A Location needs to be added to reflect sites wherever you have Hives. Note that Locations can be used creatively too e.g.

  • "Hive Warehouse" for newly built (unpopulated) or "unused" hives
  • "Mobile 1" for a portable apiary
  • "Hospital" for a quarantine location

Registering (adding) Hives 

In HiveSmartHQ each Hive needs a unique ID/Tag so that all the things you enter about a Hive (e.g. Services, Extractions) can be linked to it.

The ID can be a name (yep, some beekepers we know name their hives) or simply a number.

If you’re using a number, it’s a good idea to add leading zeros so that the hives can sort properly. e.g. 001, 002, 010, 020, 100 etc (instead of 1, 2, 10, 20, 100 which would sort as 1, 10, 100, 2, 20). This is because the ID/Tag is stored as alphanumeric labels (rather than numbers) as sorting is performed alphabetically.

You can also change (“edit”) the ID/Tag for a Hive via Hive Register at any time and it will be reflected throughout HiveSmartHQ.

If you build hives (or have unused ones), you can record that these exist in HiveSmartHQ even before you start using them at a Location.

Simply register them in HiveSmartHQ and assign them to your "Workshop/Home base" Location (or add a Location such as "Unused Hives" and assign them to that).

When you're ready for the Hive to be moved to a Location and populated with a colony, simply edit the Hive (in Hive Register) and update the Location.

If you happen to inadvertently register an extra Hive (via Hive Register) that doesn't yet physically exist, simply "rename" the Hive (i.e. edit the ID/Tag) to something like "spare 01" and temporarily assign it to your designated "Workshop" Location.

Then, when you do create an additional physical Hive you can simply rename the existing "spare" and re-assign it to the right Location (again via Hive Register). Sweet!

Hive Management 

HiveSmartHQ is designed to be able to record Services (inspections) on a Hive with minimal effort including some quick-fill features such as a one-tap rating if the Hive is in "normal" condition.

If you wish to modify what is "normal", or the different ratings, head on over to Hive Ratings (via App Options & Settings).

In Hive Ratings you can:

  • choose whether or not to use a Rating.
  • change the name of a Rating
  • change the levels within a Rating
  • modify what is the "normal" level for each Rating (used when tapping the Set to "Normal" option when adding a Service)
  • modify what is the "optimal" level for each rating (this is used to auto-flag a Hive as having potential to be used for Queen Rearing

Why not take the pressure off trying to remember everything when you can use the Apiary Notes feature to make notes about a particular Location (apiary) and/or Service Notes for inspection notes on a specific hive. Then just refer to them via Views/Service Notes before the next Service (inspection) to quickly get back up to speed.

It's a really handy time and sanity saver!

Apart from the key identifying items for a Service (i.e. Hive ID/Tag, Location & Date), the only "required" information is the Hive status and elements in the Key Hive Features section (i.e. just the quantity of Honey & Brood/Nuc boxes) all other items are optional or auto-completed for you.

If you want to add more, that's OK too - there's other information catered for but the app doesn't demand the provision of data you don't want or need.

HiveSmartHQ leans towards those who look after bees to make a living (or supplement their income) from the surplus honey that healthy bees produce so, in that context, the aim is to provide ease of use & fast entry balanced with capturing the info needed for operational efficiency and effective apiary management decision-making.

When it gets busy and you need to do inspections at multiple Locations on the same day, some beekeepers "harvest" (remove) Honey Supers from their hives and then do a consolidated collection run to pick them up from several Locations.

You can tell how many there are to pickup from each Location using the Production Summary View - just select "All Locations" and the date(s) they were "harvested" (i.e. removed) from the Hive.

When the report displays, simply swipe left to see the number of Harvested boxes from each Location. (Select a Location and you can even see which Hives they even came from!)

When adding/editing a Service via Hive Management there’s no need to open/close each section of the Service input form.

Select Add Service (or Edit for an existing Service), then simply check the flag at the bottom of window to open all of the sections for faster navigation.

Open all sections

(This option will be retained while using any of the Hive Management options through until a selection is made from the main menu.)

Honey Extraction 

Adding extractions into HiveSmartHQ is pretty straight-forward - just select the Location from where the Honey boxes came and then it can be as simple as entering the amount of Honey extracted (i.e. the Yield) from a "batch" of (1 or more) honey boxes.

You can also choose to keep track of the number of honey boxes in the batch i.e. Quantity. (HiveSmartHQ keeps track of how many honey boxes were harvested for extraction so using this can be useful.)

You may even want to keep track of the extraction from each Hive so just choose the "Track by Hive" option and select the Hive, then the Quantity (of boxes) and resulting Yield.

Then you can tell not only which Locations are producing the most but even which of your Hives! Bee-autiful.

Honey Inventory 

Extractions are often made into one vessel from which honey is then transferred into others that are sold.

For example, it might be that extractions are made into a holding tank (or bucket), from which honey is transferred to another vessel (e.g. a drum). That vessel could be sold - or it could be used to fill jars or tubs that are for sale.

HiveSmartHQ allows any combination of honey transfers and automatically keeps track of the portions of honey in each vessel relating to the extraction(s) that make up the content. Very sweet.

Other Features 

HiveSmartHQ allows you to create Seasonal Checklists of reminders (e.g. tools to take, things to do for an inspection etc) that relate to a specific time of year.

Items can be easily added and assigned to one or more months via Seasonal Checklists from the App Options & Settings menu.

Then they're right there for you as a reminder when doing a Service (inspection) - access the checklist via the icon in the footer of the Hive Management and Honey Extraction windows.

HiveSmartHQ provides the ability to extract Services data for analysis in a spreadsheet. This can be done using the multi-Tool found via the Hive Management menu option

Various filters can be applied (including date ranges) to restrict the data retrieved if needed. Then use the Export option to generate a draft email with the extracted data.

From there, the steps to pull the data into a spreadsheet are:

  1. Select the data in the email and copy it into an application that can save a text (*.txt) file e.g. Word, Notepad
  2. Save the content in that application as a text file (e.g. Extract.txt) then close the application
  3. Now open the same text file using a spreadsheet e.g. Excel, Google Docs, LibreOffice Calc. The spreadsheet application should automatically start an Import Wizard to convert the data into a spreadsheet format - the steps involved with the import process will vary depending on the spreadsheet application being used (and the version of that). However, each should provide the ability to select the following options during the import process:
    * content has headers
    * delimited (not fixed width)
    * Set the delimiter used as: | (the "pipe" symbol)
    Some wizards also allow specific columns to be (optionally) designated as dates.
  4. Once the data is imported, use the File/"Save as" option to save the spreadsheet in the default spreadsheet format (e.g. Excel: Extract.xlsx)

The spreadsheet with the extracted Service data can then be used as normal to manipulate, graph or compare Services as required.

As an example of the import process, here's some screenshots using Excel 2016:

Excel import 1

Excel import 2

Excel import 3

Good Ideas

Having an unique identifier on each Hive is a really helpful thing to do for lots of reasons (including keeping records) - and increasingly a requirement in many areas.

If you've got many hives, one option to consider is using stock tags (available from Rural Supply shops or online) - they come in various sizes, shapes and can come pre-numbered.

They're also designed to last well outdoors - far better than printed labels/stickers.

NOTE: Some stock tags aren't flat which can make them a bit trickier to attach to a hive. A beekeeper we know addresses this with a short strip of tree-webbing - the tag is attached (crimped) onto one end of the strip and the other end is screwed onto the hive.

When completing an inspection use Service Notes to make note of anything that needs doing at the next visit. Then just use Views/Service Notes before the next Service (inspection) to see all of the notes made at the last Service for each Hive at that Location.

It's a really handy time and sanity saver and helps ensure you take everything you need before heading out.

HiveSmartHQ stores the data on your smartphone/tablet device (so you can use it in remote locations where there's no internet connection). This means it's really wise to make sure you're "backing up" the data i.e. are keeping a copy of your data somewhere else in case your device fails or is lost.

If you've setup your device to automatically "save to the cloud", you're already sorted. If not, then you can use the Upload Database feature in HiveSmartHQ instead (you can find this under App Options & Settings: Transfer Data).

You might wish to do this at the end of each day to help you sleep easy.

There's a lot of flexibility built into HiveSmartHQ so that you can tailor it to your specific needs and geographic area.

For example, there's various Option Catalogs (lists) such as Nectar & Pollen Sources, Diseases, Treatments & types of Storage Vessels for honey.

The app allows you to add new items, edit existing items and choose which to show or hide in each list.

You can re-order them too so that the most frequent ones you use are at the top of the selection. Bee-autiful!

For those wishing to supplement the data stored in HiveSmartHQ in some way, or perform further analysis, it is possible to export data from the app beyond the Service data available via the multi-Tool in Hive Management. This involves:

  1. Using the Print feature in HiveSmartHQ in the applicable window and then choosing the option to save, email or share which generates a PDF file, then
  2. Use a PDF-to-Excel converter to convert the data to an Excel file.

An online search will identify a range of PDF-to-Excel converters that are available (both free and paid, albeit with various capabilities) that can be used to generate an Excel file from a PDF.

A lot of screens on smartphones and tablets are not touch-sensitive when wearing gloves. So, if you don't have a conductive stylus, try using a conductive object instead - it just needs to be about 5mm (1/4") wide e.g. a metal-topped pen or a pencil with some aluminium foil taped onto the top of it, the head of a bolt, a multi-tool, or even a freshly cut twig!