6 Beekeeping Apps in comparison

Today we have smart TV’s, smart refrigerators and even vacuum cleaners that run by themselves. Technology it seems, is all about making our life easier, and apps are an integral part of our modern lives. 

Beekeeping has not been ignored by the developers, as there are multitudes of beekeeping apps available, each catering to particular niches in the beekeeping world. But how can something so traditional such as beekeeping,  be ‘improved’ by modern technology? The array of features offered through apps could make even the most sceptical beekeeper a believer in the power of technology.

No matter if you are an experienced beekeeper or a hobbyist, there is something out there for you. But how to choose the right app to fit your needs? What are the most important aspects to consider when choosing an app, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of each one of them? In this article, we take a look at 6 of the most popular apps available.

1. Hive Manager

Where form meets function (All-on-one beekeeping management tool)

Call us biased, but this app hits the perfect balance between simplicity and functionality. Don’t we all like to see intuitive icons, that make navigation, data entry and interpretation a comfortable experience? At the same time, don’t we want a feature rich digital tool chest that can make our time beekeeping more enjoyable and more profitable? That’s where the Hive Manager shines. No matter if you are new to beekeeping or a veteran, with the user interface and features of this app you cannot go wrong.  Simple, yet useful, the dashboard will show you the apiaries and the most important information for a beekeeper: weather, colony strength, feeding and reminders. The best part: it works offline and is available over multiple platforms. This means that it is just as accessible in the field, on the move, or at home on a desktop display

With Hive Manager you can record inspections, set reminders, check your honey harvest or varroa infestation- all with just a tap. This intuitive feature is particularly useful if you do not want to spend a lot of time typing (and beekeepers do not have time for typing). On top of this, both the free and premium versions allow unlimited hives and apiaries, unlimited actions and inspections, PDF and XLSX statistics (though reports are limited). For beekeepers wanting to level up, Hive Manager is compatible with Vatorex hardware, collecting and displaying data from the digital weight scale and temperature sensor. 

As with most beekeeping apps, the premium version has a subscription cost.  With this subscription you gain access to extra data for your hives, such as months/years trend analysis and advanced statistics and PDF exports. Not sure you want to purchase the premium version? No worries. The developers give you 10 tokens to use for the first year, for advanced statistics and reporting.

Android installs: 1000+

😊 Pro's 
-very user friendly 
-works offline
-available on multiple platforms
☹ Con's
-extended information only on a subscription base
-currently limited to actions and inspections (additional tools to be developed in the future)

2. Bee in touch

A great app for offline use 

Here’s a good app for the German speaking beekeeper. Very intuitive, it has a wide range of features for both the  hobbyist and commercial beekeeper: hive management, race overview, to-do list, event planning, inventory tracking, treatment tracing and hive scanner, just to name a few. What’s the best part? It works perfectly offline, so once you’re back from the wilds, you can press the synchronisation option, and everything will be updated.  This can be incredibly valuable for beekeepers that do not have great internet connectivity around their apiaries. 

The app is available on different platforms, including a very insightful web-app. That’s pretty helpful if you want to check everything on a big screen, in the comfort of your home. On top of this, the mobile app menu is simple enough to figure out, even if you’re new to beekeeping.

All this does come with a cost though, and we’re talking about real money here. The free version is limited to two apiaries and five hives. On top of this, there are a ton of annoying advertisements flickering on the screen constantly It can be extremely distracting when you want to add your data. The paid versions are completely add free and there are several plans to choose from, costing anywhere  from 2 to 42 euros/month.

Android installs: 1000+

😊 Pro's
-offline use
-both for commercial and hobbyist
-available on multiple platforms
Con's
-only available in German 
-expensive for commercial beekeepers
-free version full of adds

3. iBeekeeper- Bienevölker

The “adaptable” app

Strip it down! If you like to keep things simple, this is the mobile app for you. Even if you are new to beekeeping, the app is user friendly enough to figure out in no time. The developers took a unique approach to organizing hive data here, and introduced the idea of a ‘Stock Card’, which can be edited offline and will sync once you get internet connection. As with the previous app on our list, this is a particularly useful feature if your apiaries are located outside areas with strong cellular connection. The creation of the card requires you to add all the information manually, however, it is the only app that has completely adaptable forms for the beekeeper to set up as they like. There is also a web platform to review information at home or in the office.

The maximum number of colonies is 300 (even with a subscription), making it suitable for both commercial and hobby beekeepers. 

Bottomline: easy to use online and offline, well-tailored for a hobbyist and multiple price packages available, ranging from € 2.04/month (10 colonies) to € 21.77/month (300 colonies).

Android installs: 5000+

😊 Pro's
-available offline
-available on multiple platforms
-multilingual
Con's
-max 300 colonies with subscription
We have tested several beekeeping apps. Find the summary in the table down below.
We have tested several beekeeping apps. Find the summary in the table down below.

4. Apiary book- Bienehauser 

The nerdy beekeeping app 

Well, this one has it all (and then some more). Besides the features common to most of the beekeeping apps, with Apiary Book you can connect with other beekeepers, check out beekeeping events, keep an eye on your inventory or financial status, or receive mentorship. On top of this, it is designed in association with MindTheBees project, which aims to create awareness about the importance of the bees for the environment.

Though it does not have a very user-friendly interface, it is designed to be the complete beekeeping management app. The downside is that the number and complexity of features can be overwhelming for beekeepers who are searching for something a bit more streamlined and simpler to use. Nonetheless, it can give a lot of meaningful information like a timeline with beehive reports, actions, colony movements, veterinary controls or even the option to use voice activation. If you are a beekeeper that makes a living out of your beekeeping, then you might find their web application and the possibility to print/ download CSV and PDF complex data particularly useful.

An interesting add-on, compared to other apps, is the floral calendar, which gives you the opportunity to check which seasons/months correspond to which types of flowers. However, this information must be entered manually.

The basic app is free, but there is a pro version available for mobile download and web use, which costs 80 euros/ year or 50 euros/ 6 months, per user. For this, you will get unlimited hives and apiaries, cloud storage, access from various devices and more advanced reports and analysis. Could be an option for someone who really likes to dig deep into beekeeping or is a professional beekeeper and wants to have access to a large variety of information.

Android installs: 100.000+ (market leader)

😊 Pro's
-loads of features
-both for hobbyists and commercial beekeepers
-available in many languages
☹ Con's
-complicated to use
-not user-friendly interface
-only available on Android 

5. Api Manager 

The app for hobbyists and commercial beekeepers who look at beekeeping as a business 

Here’s another beekeeping app packed with features. RSS feed, beekeeping assistant, beekeeping timeline, graphs and stats, queen monitoring and rearing, are just some of the additional elements you can play around with. Whether you’re new to beekeeping or a veteran, the “graph and stats” feature will blow your mind. See everything you’re interested in such as: top performers, finances, storage, harvests, diseases. Go on and add your apiaries, manage your spending and record your treatments. And if you have an idea of improvements, you can share it with the developers in the “suggest an idea” option. This app is particularly useful for managing your finances, as the dashboard shows the balance of your account, as well as cash expenditures.

The downside is that it only works with an internet connection, so for beekeepers who want to use the app on location, you must have good connectivity. Api Manager is free for the first 20 hives, making it perfect for a hobbyist. If you want to add more than 20 hives, you will need to pay a fee of 80 CHF/ year (for 1000 hives). However, taking in consideration all the treats you get, it can be a good investment.

Android installs: 5000+

😊 Pro's
-packed with features
-available on multiple platforms
-suitable for hobbyists and new beekeepers
Con's
-only works with internet connection
 

6. Hive Keepers 

The “super” editing app 

At first look, it might seem like an app that’s too simple. Don’t get fooled! Once you recorded your apiaries on the map, you have the option to edit each hive, each box and with the “super edit” feature, you can “super edit” everything.

The menu is remarkably unassuming, and the “tab” view of the apiaries gives the feeling of structure. There are not many options to play around with, however, you can add a photo of the apiary, view the inspections, and add notes. It becomes interesting when you click the small eye button which gives you the possibility to inspect the hives, boxes, and frames individually. It is here where the power of the app can truly be seen. Besides the general features most of the apps provide ( brood patterns, storage, feeding, harvest, health, set reminders, etc) the “super inspection” action, which will give you the chance to analyse and strip down each frame individually, for a more comprehensive inspection.

Don’t worry if you can’t figure out how to use make use these options. The developers have it all covered. You will receive useful emails with different tips on how to get the most out of the app, including screenshots of the actions.

In a nutshell: simple interface, enough data for analysis and the possibility of incredibly detailed inspections. With the stripped downed feature set, and the ability to really dive deep into each hive and even frame, this is the perfect app for the hobbyist who keeps just a few hives, but still wants to have fun in the digital space.

Android installs: 10.000+

😊 Pro's
-simple interface
-possibility of detailed inspection
-available on IOS and Android
Con's
-only available in English
-free for 30 days, then 60 $/year
-no web app

Conclusion

Since beekeeping is gaining popularity amongst more diverse people, we anticipate that there will be even more apps coming up in the next future. It can seem overwhelming, but keep in mind that apps can make your life as a beekeeper easier and more productive. Combining something so traditional like beekeeping with modern technologies is a part of evolution and a good path towards a sustainable world. So, don’t hesitate to embrace this modern approach towards apiculture and have fun.

App comparison
Vatorex, Ramona Szilveszter
30 September, 2020
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