Disclaimer: No bees were hacked in the making of this event.
The Bee Corp recently teamed up with Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) and their Data Science course to host our first-ever Bee Data Hackathon. If you've never heard the term before, a hackathon is an event where the sponsor provides participants with a problem and the resources to solve it.
The challenge: How can beekeepers maximize honey revenue?
The resources: A giant, messy file of bee data including historical honey prices, average honey yields in different regions, costs associated with transporting bees, and much more information (some useful, some intentionally misleading).
Students were given just a few days to clean and analyze data to recommend the best locations to maximize honey revenue throughout the year. Students were scored based on how well they followed instructions, the logic behind their math, how well they cleaned the data, and how the data was displayed in a data visualization. Undergraduate and graduate students were split up to compete for jars of our honey and a feature on this blog.
The students were given raw, uncleaned data with additional errors added by The Bee Corp Data Science team. The first step was to clean the data.
Hive weight was used as a way to track honey flows, working off the assumption that a hive that weighs more is going to be filled with more honey. When moving bees to a new location, students were given labor costs of loading bees and the transportation cost per mile to determine if the move was worth it for the revenue gained from honey collection. Different premiums for different types of honey were not considered for this hack.
Surprisingly, each team had different recommendations on where to move bees based on what they found in the data! Some teams recommended certain months that were best to move bees, while others split the data into quarters. Both a graduate student and undergraduate student team were awarded with honey for having the best hacks, and our company selected the undergraduate team as the overall winner for the blog.
The team, consisting of Yin Zhan, Wanyu Wang, and Hongda Wang recommended starting the hives in Washington for the first quarter of the year, moving to Alabama for the second quarter, Texas for the third, and then moving back to Washington for the fourth quarter of the year.
Their math was highly detailed, which won them a lot of points from the judging. They calculated the difference in honey collected in different areas and subtracted the cost of moving the hives to get the net benefit of moving the hives for honey flows. Check out their visualizations above.