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Computer Program Aids Beekeepers

By Dennis Senft
September 23, 1997

Beekeepers are booting up to better manage their businesses--thanks to a new computer program developed by scientists with the Agricultural Research Service. The free program, called BK-ECONOMICS (the BK stands for beekeeping) runs on IBM-compatible and MacIntosh computers.

ARS scientists developed the two-part program to help beekeepers manage their cash flow and project profit margins. A spreadsheet component keeps track of loans and equipment, labor, vehicle, and insurance expenditures. A database component helps beekeepers market their honey.

Included in the database are 49 years of state-by-state minimum and maximum honey values as well as averages of pounds of honey for individual bee colonies. This tells beginners how much honey they can expect to harvest. For example, Georgia beekeepers could expect an average of 50 pounds per year per colony. A colony is two or more of the typical white boxes or hives, each of which contains nine frames of honey comb. California beekeepers can expect an average of 90 pounds per year.

The program helps beekeepers locate apiculture specialists in their state, calculate loan terms and simulate consequences of business expansion plans. This can help the beginning apiarist decide whether to buy or lease new equipment or simply make do with existing equipment until a later date.

BK-ECONOMICS is available through the researchers on 3-1/2 inch floppy disks. It was developed by Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman and colleagues at ARS’ Carl Hayden Bee Research Laboratory, Tucson, Ariz.

Scientific contact: Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, ARS Carl Hayden Bee Research Laboratory, Tucson, Ariz., phone (520) 670-6481, fax (520) 670-6493, GDHOFF@AOL.COM or