PIM meets.. Beekeeping

A conceivable digitalization concept for apiaries with 30 colonies or more

At first glance, digitization and beekeeping sound like a contradiction. Immediately one has the gray-clad, pipe-equipped pensioner in mind, to whom the 21st century, laptop and enterprise resource planning does not quite fit.   But even beekeepers, whether full-time or part-time, are dependent on profit-oriented work today. Sooner or later, there will be no getting around digitization.

Readers may rightly ask themselves how we, as a team of developers of a product information management system, came up with beekeeping as a field of application. It's quite simple: Marie from our marketing team and author of this text is a passionate beekeeper and does not correspond at all to the above-mentioned cliché. And of course the question came up: How can I use a PIM for my beekeeping?  

A brief digression: What is a PIM anyway? PIM stands for Product Information Management. It is the central administration point for product data that receives data from various sources (manufacturer information, self-maintained Excel files...). In the PIM, data is bundled, quality checked and prepared to a collective output to channels such as online store, social media and print catalog.  

So the actual application area of a PIM system doesn't really seem to fit to our use case. Nevertheless, it is possible to map production processes and warehousing. For beekeepers, this would mean: Management of the colonies, warehouse management and product management.

Let's take a closer look at the many theoretical possibilities in a thought experiment.

Management of bee colonies

In a PIM there is the possibility to create, maintain and manage product data with the help of different tools. A bee colony also consists of a number of "product data" that can be managed: Hive number, parentage, parameters for performance testing (meekness, comb fit, honey yield...), varroa infestation level, etc.

Many product information management systems offer the possibility of administration via category trees or families. Attributes, i.e. the properties of a product, can be created in families. For a book, for example, this would be the title, blurb and page number.

Applied to beekeeping, the finished product would be the individual bee colony. A family could be used to manage the "product data" mentioned above, so that when a new bee colony is created, attributes (hive number, parentage...) that need to be filled in automatically are displayed. So, once the family with its attributes is set up, the creation of new colonies is very fast.

This screenshot shows the Bee Colony family with the attribute groups Basic Data and Performance Breeding Characteristics.
The attributes that are requested when filling out the "product data" can already be specified in the PIM. For location, for example, a list has been created from which one only has to select when creating the colony.

The data can not only be managed, but also displayed as a table and printed out, for example.
With the product relationship feature, it would also be possible to map the relationship of the individual peoples. This is particularly relevant for performance breeding. A table that shows the direct comparison of the test colonies of a group or the best economic colonies of the last season in terms of honey yield with just a few clicks would be a useful feature for breeding.

It would also be conceivable to show a correlation between the degree of varroa infestation, the number of colonies and the varroacides required.

Stock management

The overview that can be gained with warehouse management does not need to be emphasized. The use of product relationships would also be exciting here.

The honey output, which is maintained via the management of the colonies, can be set in connection with the quantity of buckets, jars, honey chambers and frames known to the PIM. The expected demand for the coming season could thus be obtained with just a few clicks. Time-consuming stock inspections and numbers on illegible slips of paper (honestly, who of us doesn't know it?), are no longer necessary.
In the PIM itself, one would manually maintain a relationship and its type between different components. A classic use case most will know: "Customers who bought this product also bought..." This function also makes sense for the beekeeper online store. For the product relationship between the entered honey quantity of the colonies and the inventory of jars, this function could be extended.

Product management

Product management would not only ensure a quick overview of the inventory, it could also be used to document departures. Be it as a manual entry of how many cartons were delivered to sales outlets during the week, or automatically through an interface to a large sales outlet. Through this documentation, a quick evaluation of "best sellers" and "slow sellers" is also conceivable. A PIM offers a good basis for these functions, on which one could build.

And then there is...

...the actual core competence of a product information management system:
Outputting prepared, high-quality product data to various output channels, such as online stores, social media or print catalogs. Central maintenance guarantees consistent data on all platforms and streamlines time-consuming workflows, since each product and each post does not have to be created individually for each of the platforms.

The screenshot shows the "Honeys" family with the attribute groups "Information for the store" and "Internal information". The former are output to the online store, but can be maintained and updated in the PIM.  PIM systems sometimes have rules to ensure high product data quality. For the attribute "Description long", which customers see as continuous text in the store, a character count of at least 200 is specified.

As mentioned at the beginning, PIMkerei is a thought experiment.

Some of the described functions have not yet been programmed and are only a bold thought so far. It was important for us to show that digitization for beekeeping can be tackled via many paths - A Product Information Management system could be one of them with a lot of commitment.