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Frequently Asked Questions

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How to use Beescape Tools

What geographic regions are covered by the Beescape Map and BeeWinterWise Tools? Will the map ranges be expanded?

The Beescape Map operates across the contiguous US. The BeeWinterWise Map currently only operates within the state of Pennsylvania. The BeeWinterWise Map range will be expanded at a future date as more data becomes available.

The Beescape and BeeWinterWise maps are not working. What should I do?

At this time, Beescape Tools do not work on phone or tablet interfaces. For the best user experience, please use a computer. Future updates aim to make all Beescape Tools accessible on smart devices in late 2022.

If you are experiencing problems with Beescape Tools on a computer, please check if you’re using the latest version of your web browser. If problems persist after updating to the latest browser version, please report issues to Beescapepsu@gmail.com or use the Contact form. Please include: 1. the browser version you are operating, 2: the tools you are using (Beescape and/or BeeWinterWise maps) and 3. a brief description of the problem.

Please bear in mind that the Beescape Map only operates within the contiguous US and the BeeWinterWise Map is restricted to the state of Pennsylvania. Map selections outside of these areas will return blank nesting, insecticide and floral scores for the Beescape Map and will not return annual data lines for the BeeWinterWise Map. Map functions will be expanded as more data becomes available.

What do Beescape Map scores mean?

 After pinning a location to the Beescape map, numeric scores representing the estimated quality of the site’s nesting as well as spring, summer and fall floral resources will appear in the right-hand score window. An insecticide load score will also appear. (For video instructions on how to pin a location to the map, click here).

To interpret these scores, hover your mouse over each score to see how your location’s numbers stack up against the scoring rubric. The score for each nesting, floral and pesticide index at each site is compared to the average score for that index in the state. So, if your site has a higher spring forage index score than the average site in your state, you are given a “high” score. Higher scores for forage quality mean that there is more food for honey bees and wild bees. Higher scores for nesting quality mean that there are more places for wild bees to nest. Higher scores for insecticide load mean that the insecticides that are expected to be used in the landscape around your site have higher total toxicity to bees. Ideally, apiary scores will have high nesting and forage scores and low insecticide scores. 

I don’t think the Beescape Map scores are accurate for my apiary. What tool limitations should I consider when reviewing my scores?

 Although the Beescape map can generate predictive habitat quality and insecticide load scores for any point within the contiguous US, it’s important to remember that the model underlying the map tool is not 100% accurate. The model is limited by underlying data sources which include the USDA-NASS Cropland Data Layer, insecticide data from the USGS, information from peer-reviewed research studies and expert opinion.

Landscape changes can happen rapidly and at varying scales. The USDA-NASS Crop Data is used in conjunction with other data to translate land cover data into bee forage resources, nesting habitat, and insecticide toxic load. The USDA-NASS Crop Data Layer is the best available national map of US cropland, but it has some inaccuracies at the local level. It provides data at a resolution of 30 meters (about 1/5th of an acre), so it misses detail for land cover and land use at finer scales. Also, the use of satellite information to classify land cover is not perfect, and sometimes land cover is misclassified. Finally, it takes about a year to classify land cover information captured by satellites and to provide the data to the public. Thus, the base map typically represents the previous year’s data.

 There are also several sources of uncertainty in the insecticide load score. Importantly, the score is based on all insecticides applied in a landscape but does not account for the reality that bees will encounter only a small proportion of the total insecticides applied. Thus, these scores should provide information on the relative amount of insecticide toxicity in the landscape. Moreover, the score is limited to agricultural insecticide use, and so excludes other kinds of insecticide application (e.g., homeowner use, mosquito spraying). The score also scales insecticide use by short-term toxicity to adult bees and assumes that insecticides have additive effects. Sublethal effects, effects on developing bees, and synergistic effects therefore may not be fully captured by this score. Finally, patterns of insecticide use are predicted based on state averages from surveys conducted in recent years and do not reflect local variability in farmer decision-making.

As more habitat and insecticide use data becomes available, our models will become more refined and accurate. If you are a beekeeper, please consider joining the Beescape Team and contributing information about your beekeeping practices and apiaries through brief surveys. The information you provide helps make Beescape Tools better for all users!

To read more about how the Beescape Map scores are generated, click here.

To read more about participating in the Beescape Survey, click here.

How can I improve Beescape Map scores for my apiary

 There are many things you can do to make your property more hospitable for bees! Please visit our Pollinator Resources page to learn how to provide floral and nesting resources for bees on your property while reducing their chances of insecticide exposure.

Please keep in mind that the Beescape Map model will not necessarily reflect changes in local property scores because of limitations to the underlying data sets used to populate the model. To read more about Beescape Map limitations, please click here

How do I use the BeeWinterwise Colony Survival Tool?

Please note that the BeeWinterWise map is currently limited to Pennsylvania. This map will be expanded as more data becomes available.

Launch the BeeWinterWise Colony Survival Tool.

Place a pin on the map and then click the pin to view survival predictions in Pennsylvania! A pin can be placed on the map either by 1) typing an address into the search bar or 2) clicking the 'click here and then drop pin on map' button directly to the right of the search bar and manually placing the pin on the map.

How do I interpret BeeWinterWise Colony Survival data? Are there any tool limitations I should take into account?

 Temperature fluctuations and precipitation affect colony survival. Summer growing conditions are important predictors of winter colony survival because they strongly impact the availability of floral resource across seasons and, therefore, overall colony health at the onset of winter. If a growing season was too warm (or warm for too long) or too cool (or too cool for too long), then colony survival is predicted to be lower.

Once you have a pin on the map, click the pin to view the predicted colony survival graph. The graph shows survival rates as a function of 'growing degree days' (GDD, a metric of temperature across seasons) for the current and past several years. If temperatures are ideal, a given year's trend line will overlap the grey GDD range. If temperatures are too high or low, the trend line will rise into red or fall into blue GDD territory, respectively, predicting increased colony stress and lower survival.

Remember, this tool is based on data that we have from beekeepers! The more data we have, the more accurate the models, and this tool, will become.  If you are a beekeeper, please consider creating a Beescape account and providing information on your colony survival rates! We ask for data to be submitted for November and April and contributing data only takes a few minutes each year!  

Who should I contact with my suggestions to improve Beescape Tools?

 We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please send your suggestions to beescapepsu@gmail.com or submit a form through the Contact page. Your suggestions will help improve these tools for all users!

How to participate in the Beescape Survey (for beekeepers)

What is the Beescape Survey?

Any beekeeper can participate in the Beescape Survey! The Beescape Survey collects information about apiary locations and beekeeper management practices (e.g., treating for Varroa mites). Participants fill out an initial survey and follow-up questionnaires each spring (April) and fall (November) to track hive survival and other factors. Surveys only take a few minutes to fill out. [Coming soon--You can view a pdf copy of each survey (initial, fall, spring) here].

Thank you for your consideration! The data provided by participants helps us improve the accuracy of Beescape Tools for all users! If you choose to participate, simply create a Beescape account, identify your apiary location(s) and fill out questionnaires.

Does the Beescape Survey collect information about wild bees?

Currently, the Beescape Survey only collects information about managed honey bee colonies from beekeepers. However, there are many citizen science programs that you can report your wild bee observations too. Check out this related FAQ for more information, or read about citizen science programs for monitoring pollinators and their habitat here.

How do I create a Beescape Survey account? What should I do if I have trouble accessing my account?

 See video instructions for creating and activating a Beescape account here.

Go to app.beescape.org to open the Beescape Map Tool. In the upper right-hand corner, click the blue “Participate in Study” button. Once you have submitted a contact email, username and password, Beescape.org will email you an activation link. Before logging into your new Beescape account, check the email account you used to sign with for an activation link. Open the email and click the activation link to complete your account’s set up.

If you did not receive an activation link email, check your spam folder. If the activation email is not in your spam folder, 1. go to app.beescape.org, 2. click “Log in” in the upper right-hand corner, 3. select “Resend activation link” at the bottom of the window, and follow the prompts to receive the activation link.

The first time you log into your new account, you will be prompted to fill out a one-time survey about your beekeeping practices. After completing this survey, you will be able to add apiaries to your account and fill out fall and spring surveys for these apiaries (Coming soon--view a pdf of all surveys here).

If you already have an activated account, you can access it by visiting app.beescape.org and clicking “Log in” in the upper right-hand corner. If you forget your password, click the “Log in” button, select “Forgot password” and follow the prompts. If access problems persist, please contact beescapepsu@gmail.com, and we will help you troubleshoot!

How do I add an apiary to my Beescape Survey account? How do I fill out spring and fall surveys for each apiary I have added?

 See video instructions for adding apiaries and filling out surveys here. 

Go to app.beescape.org. Log into your account using the “Log in” button in the upper right-hand corner. The first time you log into your account, you will be asked to fill out a one-time survey about how long you have been beekeeping and what your beekeeping management practices are.

After completing the initial survey, you will be able to add your apiaries to your account. In the Beescape Map, search for a location near your apiary in the address bar and/or use the zoom and scroll map features to locate your apiary in satellite view. Once you have located your apiary, hover your mouse over the location on the map and click once. (Do not double click, as this may cause the map to zoom or scroll). Clicking once will drop a lettered pin on the map for your apiary and provide corresponding nesting, insecticide and floral resources indices in the right-hand window. If you pin the wrong location, simply ignore the pin, or throw it out by clicking the trash icon associated with the pin’s letter in the right-hand window. Add one pin per apiary.

Once your apiaries are pinned, go the right-hand window that shows the landscape scores and click the clipboard icon for each apiary that you would like to include in the Beescape study. Once you have selected an apiary for inclusion by clicking the corresponding clipboard, the clipboard will turn blue. After you have identified your apiaries, click the Survey button in the upper left-hand corner. The apiaries you have selected will be listed with options to complete spring and fall surveys for each one. Surveys that need information entered will appear with a red circle to their left. Completed surveys will appear with a green check mark to their left.

What do I do if I make a mistake while entering my survey?

 Contact us (beescapepsu@gmail.com) with detailed information about the error. We will fix the mistake for you!

Can I fill out the Beescape Surveys by hand prior to submitting the data online?

Yes! (Coming soon--Please click this link to download a pdf of the Beescape Surveys).

Why do you need the GPS data for my hives and who gets to see this information? How will my privacy be protected if I participate in the Beescape Survey?

 We take privacy very seriously! We will never make the location of your apiary or your personal information public.

Apiary GPS coordinates tie hives to real-world locations and allow us to consider how different landscapes affect colony survival. Likewise, management practices allow us to identify successful strategies in the context of different landscapes and environmental factors. When this information is supplied from many beekeepers, we are able to draw inferences at scale to understand bee health based on forage radius, environmental factors and management practices. With this in mind, your apiary GPS locations and management practices give us valuable information to improve the accuracy of Beescape Tools. Though Beescape users can never see the data contributed by individual participants, improvements to Beescape Tools help beekeepers and land managers make better decisions! 

How to help bees and other pollinators

How can I help bees and other pollinators?

 Whether you manage public or private habitat in residential, agricultural, right-of-way or restored or preserved natural properties, there are things you can do to improve flower forage and nesting habitat for bees while reducing their chances of pesticide exposure. Please visit our Pollinator Resources page to learn more.  

Can Beescape help me identify wild bees? Where can I report wild bee observations?

 While Beescape is not able to help users identify and report sightings of wild bees, your local university extension service or entomology department can help you do so! When reaching out with an identification request, try to provide photos from a few angles and tell the recipients where and when you observed the insect.

There are also many excellent citizen science programs that can help you identify pollinators and record your pollinator observations! iNaturalist lets users upload flora or fauna pictures and the platform software enables users to identify, report and discuss species observations with other naturalists. Submitted observations help scientists understand trends in the natural world. Please visit the Pollinator Resources page to read more about citizen science programs for pollinators and their habitat.

Beekeeping resources and connections

Can Beescape help me find people to remove honey bee swarms, wild bees or wasps from my property?

The Beescape Team is not able to directly connect you with local entities that can aid in the relocation or removal of insects from your property. If you have a honey bee swarm on your property that you would like removed, please contact your local beekeeping chapter or reach out to your local university extension service for help. Likewise, please seek advice from your local university extension service about the management or removal of carpenter bees, wasps, hornets or other insects from your property. Search Penn State Extension for information here.

Does Beescape have a forum? How can I get in touch with beekeepers in my area?

Beescape does not have a discussion forum. To get in touch with beekeepers in your area, please contact your local beekeeping chapter or your university’s extension service.

Where can I learn more about best management practices for honey bees?

Please visit our Beekeeping resources section.

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