Are the weather conditions favorable to bee foraging activity? The new honeybee foraging model predicts bee activity by looking at past, current, and forecast weather conditions.
Bee activity depends on temperature, rain, wind, and solar radiation. Honeybees are most active at temperatures around 70-85ºF, and forage less as temperatures drop. Rain fall suspends bee foraging, and bees tend to wait until the flowers are dry again before resuming foraging. Bees prefer calm wind conditions as flight is not possible above a certain wind speed. Cloud cover also decreases bee foraging activity compared to clear and sunny skies.
The honeybee foraging model calculates a score for bee activity based on these weather conditions, with scores ranging from 0 (no activity) to 10 (high activity) when weather conditions are ideal. In addition to the foraging score, the model output includes explanations as to which factor(s) are causing less than optimal bee activity. Information about bee activity is useful for estimating foraging quality and for management of pollination and fruit set.
This model was developed in collaboration with Dr. Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, head of the USDA Carl Hayden Bee Lab in Tucson (AZ), and the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission. Additional work is underway with the purpose of tying this bee foraging model in with the bloom phenology model for predictions of fruit set.
To see the model output for new models, edit your station in your DAS account settings and add any model to that station. As always, your feedback and comments are most welcome.
The DAS Team