VHive - Virtual Hive

It can be a real pain in the neck to maintain a traditional observation hive. You first of all need bees (you buy them by the pound, and you know when they arrive because the local post office will call you no matter what time of the day or night and demand that you come down and pick them up - immediately, if not sooner), you need to obtain the hive (usually a kit) transfer the bees, feed and maintain them and do whatever they need to do to survive the winter. In return they will teach you all about these fascinating social insects, before they all die of tracheal mites.

VHive is a "someday" project of mine that will present a simulated bee hive. It will offer a view of comb (possibly more than one using a tabbed display) and animate bees moving around in the hive doing things. Bees would "leave" to return some random time later with necter and pollen, and may do "bee dances" to direct others where to find the bounty. Other bees would tidy the hive, secrete wax, build more comb and, of course, care for the larvae. The queen, of course, would move from cell to cell depositing an egg in each one she likes.

Special events would occur at appropriate times - "swarming", where the old queen takes half the hive and leaves to set up a new hive somewhere else (happens just before a new virgin queen hatches). In the fall is "massacre day" when all the male bees (drones) are tossed out of the hive on their fuzzy little behinds (males don't have stingers) to starve to death. Perhaps we might simulate the fumes and prodding of the occassional beekeeper visit.

The simulation would be "real" in that each bee would be tagged with a number and tracked through it's normal lifetime, first as a larva, then a coccoon in a brood cell, thence to nursemaid, hiveworker, "air conditioner" (the bees that fan their wings at the hive entrances to produce a breeze on hot days) and finally to field worker - an average of 6 weeks in high summer. The average hive may have 50,000 bees in it, but I imagine VHive could get by with one or two hundred.

I'll write it someday. Of course, having posted this, Richard Suchenwirth will probably write one the next time he's bored for a minute or two... =)