BEEHAVE: the honey bee colony model


BEEHAVE is a computer model that simulates
a honey been colony on the basis of daily time steps . It shows the dynamics of the
single honey bee colony and the foraging activities of the bees, so how much nectar and pollen
they collect from the landscape, but it also includes the dynamics of varroa mites and
it can address different conditions of weather and food availability in the landscape. So first you have to define the start conditions
of the simulation. For example you would choose the default setting and then you can add the
varroa mites and the beekeeper and press ‘set up’ and run the model. The main window shows the colony dynamics
each bar represents a cohort of bees. So for example you have the blue bars which represent
eggs, yellow bars represent larvae and brown bars represent kept brood; the orange bars
represents the in-hive workers, and foragers are shown as these little bees on top of the
window moving to the right as they are getting older. You can also see two flowers and green one
and a red one and they represent the food patches. You can define the food provided
at these patches in the green boxes on the right side for example you can define the
quantity of nectar they provide on each day, the sugar concentration of the nectar, the
pollen and the distance to the hive. The sun and the cloud show the weather today
and the two arrows indicate how pollen and honey stores have changed today. So the whole video presents a single year.
In the plot of the colony structure you can see that they start with about 10,000 bees
then it goes down in the late winter, early spring, then the colony size increases for
each of its maximum in summer and then declines again during autumn and winter. You can also see the number of varroa mites
in the mite plot. The varroa mites are parasites that transmit viruses that can affect the
bee health which means that bees have a reduced life span and an increased mortality, and
you can see that the number of mites is dramatically increasing but then when the bee keepers start
to treat against the mites you see that they are declining and almost all mites have gone
at the end of the treatment. You can also see the plot with the stores
in the hive, for example the honey stores and the pollen stores; we can also stimulate
how forage availability in the landscape interacts with the presence of the varroa mites, and
we see that at least to some degree improved forage availability in the landscape can mitigate
the impact of varroa mites. The advantage of a model is that we can create
new hypotheses to test what we can do in the field studies, models are cheap to produce
and quick to run. The BEEHAVE model can be used by scientists and researchers but it
can also be used by anyone interested in honeybees and especially beekeepers. Honeybees play an important role not only
because they produce honey but mainly because they are important pollinators. So we will keep on working with the BEEHAVE
model and address all sorts of questions. For example how the landscape and the food
availability in the landscape will effect colony dynamics, and also how pesticides might
affect the colony dynamics.

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