Data layers and honey: visualizing data and real life.

For almost 20 years, I have been engaged in deliberately looking for and looking at maps of where I have lived. Map librarianship is one of my dreams long delayed. Statistical analysis and the history of graphical data displays is where I am headed in the next few years. I finally am going to do the data visualization stuff I deferred for a decade, and that decision was totally reinforced by having an old data set shown to me anew just this week.

My co-worker, and new friend, A happens to be researching stuff about the certification of honey. We got to talking about resources for information and it was one of those reference librarian moment that I dig.  I ended up pointing her to the WSU Extension office to get some questions answered, and out of that exchange she shared that she found CropScape! I have looked at crop data in a lot of formats, but I have not been looking at that kind of data except casually for a long time. In that long time GIS got better and the data layers increased.

The updated release is like magic.  I love this kind of data representation? I hope you do, because I think this is one of the most important collections of information in the world. But, then again, I live in an ag state, am a farm advocate, am scientifically literate, and I like to get shite done.

Looking at the agricultural landscape of the Columbia Basin has taught me more about the history, culture, politics, perils and possibilities, of the area than anything else. Our thousand circles croplands on the top of this kind of landscape is devastating, and you can’t tell that if you don’t know what you are looking at when you see irrigated desert, dam after dam, and pavement. Data layers and what they represent in the real world are mandatory to being effective and aware.

If you are interested in bees and what you can do to support them, you should look into reducing honey consumption and buying local with the intent to get to know the keeper and understand what is in the landscape. Barring that buy only local and / or organic honey. Or Non-GMO Project honey, or any honey that has some kind of highly meaningful label on it.

2328582449_c074d67cb3_bA is using CropScape to see if the organic standard requirements and the Non-GMO  standard requirements for honey can be aided using these mapping tools. Seems a much more effective way to create supporting documents and  affidavits about the zones around apiary. Each pixel is a square meter, and the data sets that underlie are pretty extensive. Real world need, information science tools, resources that are expensive to build but are incredibly worth every cent.

The organic standard looks at:

6.7.2. Principal Feed Source Areas

Organic honey must be produced by naturally foraging colonies that are located at least 2 miles distant, in straight-line flight, from any pollution source which could cause the honey to become contaminated by, or as a result of, returning foraging bees (e.g. synthetic-chemical sprayed agriculture, industrial centers, urban centers, etc.).

A detailed map of all forage areas is required from all applicants.

NOSB honey recommendations (which are alike to the Non-GMO Project Standard) are, however:

Forage zone. Land or bodies of water, within a 1.8 mile (3 km) radius of the edge of the
apiary/bee yard which provides bees with water, nectar, honeydew, pollen and propolis.


Surveillance zone. Land area of a 2.2 mile radius (3.4 km) beyond the forage zone which may
not contain high risk activities.

It is important to understand the landscape around you. The bees do.

CropScape FAQs

2 thoughts on “Data layers and honey: visualizing data and real life.

  1. Love your sweet honeybees! We want to eunatvelly raise some bees and someday I’m planning on having a bee tattooed on my wrist. I love honeybees, too! Great post for Sweet Saturday!

    1. Anyeli, sorry for delay (really long!) in replying. I have some bee ink too! When you get yours, hop on here and send a little pic! All the best!

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