Beekeeping with Google Maps

Here’s a quick video I made over my lunch break yesterday that shows how I use Google Maps to figure out where my bees might be flying.

Honey bees have been known to forage as far as 13km (about 8 miles), but the usual number that’s thrown around is the 5km maximum (about 3 miles). As with almost everything in beekeeping, there is no one precise answer because there are about 10 billion factors to consider first, most of them having to do with the local climate. Honey bees won’t fly 5km if they can find everything they need close to their hives. A 1km forage radius or less is not uncommon in areas with plentiful forage. However, 1-3km seems to be the average, or so most of the big textbooks tell me.

So here’s how I use Google Maps to calculate the approximate forage area of my bees (if you didn’t watch the video):

(Animated GIFs might take a few seconds to load.)

1) Open up Google Maps.

2) Enter address into Google Maps, or manually find beeyard location on map.

3) Right-click the location of beeyard and select the “Measure distance” option. This will produce a starting point, the location of the beeyard.

4) Click another location on the map. Google Maps will display the distance between those two points. Then grab the second point (regular mouse click and hold) and move it in a circle around the first point while maintaining (for example) a 1km radius. And there you have it, the approxmiate forage area of the bees.

To calculate the forage area of a particular field of flowers (for example), do the same thing beginning with the ole right-click, but instead of making only two points on the map, make several points that eventually connect to the original point. Google Maps will display the exact area of whatever shape was created on the map. Pretty neat, eh?

These instructions are for PC desktops. Mac users can do whatever Mac mice do.

March 18th, 2022: Here’s an online map similar to Google Maps that produces circles of any size to calculate the area, and the circles are easy to move around. The satellite view is a bit twitchy. It’s not as elegant as Google Maps and I wish the satellite view worked better, but it does the job.

https://www.calcmaps.com/map-radius/

Apparently circles can be made on Google Earth Pro and Google Maps, but I wouldn’t call it a straightforward process, so I can’t recommend it. I also posted a follow-up video on Facebook that goes into all this:

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