Anyone that manages a lot of beehives and multiple bee yards will tell you that record keeping gets harder and harder the bigger you get (especially if you’re a part time beekeeper). Up until this year, my brother and I had relied on text messages, a white board, and good old calendars to keep track of what beehives/beeyards needed what. This year we had a bit of a “misunderstanding” in one of our beeyards with regards to making up mating nucs. I setup the cell builder colony (and did the grafting) and my brother was supposed to make up the mating nucs. Well, let’s just say that the nuc’s never got made…
This little mishap got me thinking. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a “program” where you enter the date that you are making nucs and it will generate a calendar with all of the pertinent information? Useful information such as when queen cells are capped, when to make mating nucs, when to insert queen cells, when the cells hatch, when to expect new eggs, etc. Then I realized that I make “calculators” for things all the time due to my day job and I thought, why not make one? In my opinion, the easiest platform for such a program (to generate a calendar) is MS Excel, as it has many built-in predefined date and arithmetic functions. So I sat down and created what I lovingly call: Estrada Farms nuc Calendar Generator. It’s not the best program out there I’m sure, but it gets the job done and will make generating such calendars much less time consuming.
It was only until AFTER I created my calendar generator that I decided to check the internet to see if anyone else had come up with such a generator already. A quick google search turned up a website that gives you a list of dates, but doesn’t generate an actual calendar view. I find the calendar view to be much more helpful than just a list of dates because you can see the days of the week (and you get a sense of when to do the task relative to your “today”). Writing such a program in HTML (or any web language) would be much harder, which is probably why it doesn’t exist and its the reason why I ruled out that option as well.
After I created the nuc calendar generator a friend (and hobbyist beekeeper) asked if it would work for walk-away splits as well. I thought about it and realized that all dates would be shifted by a day. I didn’t want to rework my formulas so I took the easy way out and just added instructions for splits in parenthesis next to the instructions for nucs.
I intend to share this spreadsheet program with a few people so the remainder of this write-up will be somewhat of a “how to” use the program.
The first step after you open the file, is to go to the right month tab and click the “Enter Date” button on top. See figure 1 below:
After you click the “Enter Date” button you will get a popup window. The popup window will have a nuc option on the left side and a split option on the right side. In this example we will select the nuc option. click the drop-down arrow on the date picker as shown in figure 2 below:
After you click the drop-down arrow on the date picker you will get a small calendar to help you select the date. The date you will pick is the date that you will be removing the queen from the cell builder colony. Reference figure 3 below:
If you prefer to use a different date as a baseline (such as when you graft) then you can “play” with the dates as necessary to get your desired results. When planning mating nucs, I prefer to use the date that the queen is removed as my baseline date.
After you select the right date, click the OK button and you will see the calendar generated. Make sure that you are in the correct month (based on the date you chose). reference figure 4 below:
If you start mid-month, the program will generate the right activities in the right months. For example, if I had chosen a date of April 15th, half of my activities would have been put on the May calendar. I used a date of April 1st in the example to try to capture as much as possible in one month.
Please be aware that I used “optimal” dates for all activities. Some dates may change due to your specific conditions. A good example of this is the date that your queen will start laying new eggs. We all know that weather is a big factor in when queens mate and begin laying. So you will have to monitor your specific situation and make sure to account for the differences.
I hope to start using this calendar generator next year (2018). It is very likely that after I use it in real time that I’ll come up with other ideas and enhancements to incorporate into the program (it always happens that way). For now I’m pretty excited to start using the program and to hopefully have fewer “mishaps” due to lack of organization.
P.S. for those of you who are pretty observant: You may have noticed the “Oxalic Calculator” tab or the “Oxalic Treatment Window (if necessary)” task on the calendar. There is a story behind that and it will likely be the subject of my next post.