BEEHAVE simulates the development of a honey bee colony and its foraging of nectar and pollen in a realistic landscape. The purpose of BEEHAVE is to allow representing stressors, alone and in combination, of honeybee colonies within a hive and in the landscape: varroa mites transmitting the deformed wing virus (DVW) or the acute paralysis virus (APV), effects of several beekeeping practices, poor forage availability or even forage gaps in the landscape, and pesticide losses of foragers, inhive bees, or brood.

BEEHAVE can be freely downloaded from this website. It comes together with a user manual and a detailed model description. BEEHAVE is implemented in the free open-source software (NetLogo).

Currently – begin 2016 – BEEHAVE is used by three research groups (University of Exeter, Environment and Sustainability Institute; Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research-UFZ; French National Institute for Agricultural Research [INRA], Avignon). BEEHAVE has been extensively tested by a working group of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA; see Publication page).

Colony and population dynamics

While BEEHAVE simulates the development of a single honeybee colony our upcoming bumble bee model can deal with a multitude of colonies from different species. The models determine the number of eggs, larvae, pupae and adult bees of both sexes for each day of the simulation based on the egg laying rate, development and stage or activity dependent mortalities.


Under suitable weather conditions, foragers can explore the surrounding landscape to collect nectar and pollen which are then stored in the colony. Their decisions are based on the needs of the colony, their individual knowledge of foodsources and their attempt to maximise the foraging efficiency.


Brood requires sufficient incubation and larvae need to be fed by nurse bees with jelly rich in protein from pollen. If the colony lacks in-hive bees to care for the brood or pollen to feed the larvae, brood will start to die.

Landscape and forage availability

Each food source can provide a certain amount of nectar and pollen which depends on its size and the flower species and varies with the season. Distances to the colony affect not only the probability to be found by scouting bees but also the value of the food source for the colony.

Varroa and beekeeping

Varroa mites reproduce in brood cells and transfer viruses to the bees. This results in higher mortality rates of infected bees and can ultimately kill a colony. A virtual beekeeper may treat the colony against varroa but can also harvest honey, feed the colony, and allow or prevent swarming.

Simulating multiple factors

Our models allow us in a fast and cost effective way to investigate how various stressors either in isolation or in combination, may affect the colony development, e.g. varroa mites and unfavourable weather conditions might stress the colony but their impact could be less harmful for the colony if plenty of forage is available in the landscape



Dr Matthias Becher Profile


I am interested in the ecology of social bees, how they interact with each other and with their environment.

During my PhD at the University of Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) I studied the impact of developmental temperatures on division of labour and colony organisation in honeybees, combining experimental work with computer simulations.

I then moved to the UK to work with Juliet Osborne at Rothamsted Research. Closely linked to experimental studies on honeybees, we developed the BEEHAVE colony model.

Since 2013 I am an Associate Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, based on the Penryn Campus in Cornwall. Here, we developed the landscape model BEESCOUT and the bumblebee population model Bumble-BEEHAVE, which will available here to download after publication. We are currently working on a pesticide module which will enable us to simulate the effects of neonicotinoid applications on honeybees and bumbleblees.

A Short Video showing the Model in action.