Winners of our Milwaukee Startup Week MVP: You pitch it, we build it.
Last week, Beepods sent a team over to DevCodeCamp to talk about the exciting new app that we’ll be launching soon. The purpose of this app is to help beekeepers to collect more thorough data during their hive inspections from the convenience or their smartphones.
In this post, we’ll talk a little bit about some of the features that were proposed during the meeting. But first, what exactly is Beepods?
What is Beepods?
Beepods is a company based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We got our start manufacturing top-bar bee hives from locally-sourced (or as locally as possible) materials. As the company has grown, we have expanded our inventory of beekeeping tools and products made from our very own bees, such as balms and salves.
Our main goal is not to sell a product, though – it’s to help the bees. Our philosophy is “beekeeping for the bees,” meaning that we practice sustainable beekeeping where the focus is on the welfare of the bees rather than how much honey, wax, or propolis they can produce.
Over the past few years, the news has been abuzz with stories about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD for short) and the rapid decline of the worldwide bee populations. At Beepods, we’re trying to combat this issue on many fronts.
We work with beekeepers to manage their hives in a sustainable fashion. Many of the farms that produce the honey you see on the shelves at your local grocery store keep their bees in a way that is more about the honey than the bees, often taking away all of the bees’ honey and replacing it with sugar water. Bees need honey to survive and become weak on a sugar water diet. Not only is this practice bad for the bees, but the honey often isn’t as delicious as what comes from healthier, happier bees.
We also have some great speakers on our team who go to events to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and what we can do to help them thrive. Not everyone who wants to save the bees wants to be a beekeeper, so we provide them with a few alternative ways to help their local pollinators.
Since the world of science is a little bit behind when it comes to bee research, we ask all of our beekeepers (and all beekeepers in general!) to collect as much and as thorough of data as possible when they do their hive inspections. Our goal is to provide researchers with a good base of data from which to conduct studies to figure out what factors are causing CCD, and how we can prevent it. This app is going to revolutionize the way that our beekeepers collect their data, and we are so happy to be working with DevCodeCamp on this project!
What sorts of features will this app have?
As stated earlier in this post, the purpose of this app is to collect data, so every aspect of this app is going to make collecting thorough data easier than ever before. There will be screens that will allow beekeepers to “build a yard,” essentially entering the location of their yard, how many hives are in the yard, and how close together the hives are. By tracking the locations of the hives, data analysts will be able to look at how climate, weather, elevation, etc. affect colonies.
We are also working on integrating some personalized educational features into the app. Our goal is for the app to analyze the data that a beekeeper puts in, and then provide a link to an article or resource that is applicable to their situation. For example, if a beekeeper enters data that indicate that their hive may be preparing to swarm, or split into 2 colonies (rapidly increasing population, producing new queens, etc.), they will be directed to an article describing the signs of swarming, and how to prevent it (if that’s what the beekeeper wants to do, that is).
There will be an option to add events, such as a swarm or split, an installation of new bees, or a dead hive. When events are entered, different forms will pop up for the beekeeper to fill out. In the case of a dead hive, they will be provided with an autopsy form to help them to figure out why their bees may have died. In the case of an installation, there will be a form asking whether the installation was from a nuc or a package, and what breed the bees were.
The app will also track what times beekeepers are visiting their hives. By being able to look at the time of day that beekeepers are checking in on their hives, researchers may be able to learn more about bees’ daily routines. These time stamps will also determine how frequently beekeepers are looking at their hives. Bees can manage quite well on their own and shouldn’t be checked in on too often. One of the ideas discussed at the meeting is to have the app look at these timestamps, and if the beekeeper is doing inspections too frequently, a popup window will appear telling the beekeeper to “buzz off.”
These are just a few examples of features that were discussed at our kickoff meeting last week. We are putting together a focus group of Beepods customers who will look at the app and tell us what they want to see included (or not included) in the finished product. By working together with these beekeepers and the awesome development team at DevCodeCamp, we’re confident that this app is going to set the standard for beekeeping software for years to come.
Welcome to the first progress update on the development of the new Beepods hive inspection app! The team over at DevCodeCamp has been working hard on style and ease of use design, and they sent over some working designs.
Here is a working design of how the login screen will look when a user opens the application. Its design is simple and straightforward, and very easy to use! No one wants to be fiddling around with a complicated sign-in process while they’re trying to juggle all of their beekeeping equipment.
Hive Settings Screen
These are two possible designs for the hive settings screen. Both have options to give each hive a name, which is great for beekeepers that have multiple hives. There is also a section to give each hive a description, like where it is located in the yard or what type of bees live in the hive. If more than one person looks after a hive, there is an option to add users to each hive, so that each person who cares for the hive can enter data.
Hive Selection Screen
This is a rough diagram of the selection screen. This screen allows beekeepers to select which hive they will be inspecting.
Team Member Profile
Now we want to introduce you to one of the DevCodeCamp team members who is helping to develop this app:
I am a recently graduated student with a degree in computer science. I love everything about tech and the video game industry and am looking forward to becoming a part of it soon. I am not afraid to challenge ideas as well as take criticism as I believe that communication is the key to everything in life.
In my free time I like to play Frisbee golf, weight lift, and play video games. I am a huge fan of the Packers and playing some fantasy football as well. I’m always willing to try new things and find new passions in my life.
Currently, I am working on developing mobile apps for DevCodeCamp using React Native. Aside from mobile, my primary experience has been in web development (using Angular 1 and asp.net) but I am always eager to learn new technologies.
This past week, the team at DevCodeCamp has been making great progress on the Beepods Hive Inspection App! They have now made it possible for users to log into their Beepods account using the app, so all of their data can be synced. This will also allow us to look at who is using the app so that we can know where to store which inspection forms.
The question and selection screens are also coming along nicely – so much so that we are hoping to be able to begin user testing within a couple of weeks!
Next, the team is now able to access the database that they created for Beepods through an expansion of a WordPress API, which they also created! The purpose of this is to be able to pull yard and hive data for analysis, as well as to allow users to manage their hives. By “manage,” we mean updating the address of your hive if you decide to move, add or remove hives from yards, and giving other users access to view, edit, or add data to a hive or yard that you are the owner of.
Below are a couple of examples of what the final hive and yard settings screens may look like:
From this screen, users will be able to add or remove hives. They will also be able to add or remove other users from their yard and/or hive. While latitude and longitude are visible in this example, they will not be visible in the final app. They are visible here for testing purposes only and will allow us to use a user’s entered address for future features on the app that will require geolocation.
Below are a few examples of questions that will make up the hive inspection form:
The design here is extremely simple because we want to make this app as easy for our users to operate as possible. The app developers decided to keep the number of options on the screen to a minimum so that users can easily navigate the screens one-handed since we know that beekeepers rarely have both hands free during inspections.
As a user answers the questions on their screen, the form will automatically move on to the next question (no need to tap a “next” button!). There will also eventually be a header, as well as a back button in case you need to revisit a question. Yard Selection Screen
Next is an example of how the yard selection screen may look. Each yard has a name (in this example, they are named after Taylor Swift albums) so that the user can easily find which yard they are looking for. Users will have the option to choose the names of their yards, so they can name the yard whatever makes the most sense to them.
Team Member Profile
Finally, we’d like to introduce you to another member of the app development team:
Aaron is a pillow fight world record holder. He routinely makes it to the third round of spelling bees, and at one point could match every country to its flag. As a burgeoning full-stack developer, he particularly enjoys solving and implementing back-end solutions. He hopes to one day appear on the front page of Google search results.
Keep an eye out for the finished app, which we’re looking to launch in the early spring.