Vitamin Bee

Vitamin Bee

By Margaret Sands, Kunyi Li, Yihang Sui, and Rikhav Shah

The data say that bee colonies are dying in large numbers across the United States due to various health stressors such as mites and pesticides. We want to tell this story because bees influence many parts of our daily lives without our knowledge. Many fruits and other crops rely on bees and other pollinators to create a larger and better quality harvest. However, most consumers of fruit do not consider the relationship. We want to inform grocery shoppers at supermarkets about the conditions of bee colonies in states that produce their favorite fruits and how widespread the problem is across the entire country, and urge them to take action to protect bees. Our audience is shoppers at supermarkets, possibly organic supermarkets like Whole Foods where customers would be more inclined to care about the environment. Our visualization is in the form of an interactive activity that would be displayed on a touch screen monitor or tablet along with a facilitator to guide the user through the experience. We incentivize grocery shoppers to participate in this activity by offering them a coupon on organic produce if they complete the activity.

The activity starts by prompting the user to pick their favorites in a list of fruits. The list of fruit is purposefully selected in that they are all fruits that rely on bee pollination. Then the user is presented with facts regarding the fruit that are also related to bees so they become aware that their favorite fruit is heavily tied to bees. For our example, the user has selected strawberries.

Next, the user is asked to guess which state they think produces the largest amount of their favorite fruit by dragging the fruit icon over a state. Once they’ve selected a state, we will reveal the 3 states that are the top producers of that fruit so the user can see if they guessed correctly.

As we want to inform the user about bees in these states, we then present a side by side comparison of bee conditions in those three states. Stats included are bee population, annual percentage of bee colonies lost, and percentage of colonies affected by various health stressors.

At this point, the user has only seen the problem of disappearing bees in three specific states, but we also want them to know that this problem is nationwide. To do this, we show them a map of bee colony loss in all the states across the country where they can select different states to see the percentage of annual bee colony loss in the selected state.

After they’ve seen the problem in the context of states and the entire US, we invite the user to create change. These invitations range from actions they can take in their own yard, like changing their pesticide of choice to a bee-friendly brand, to actions they can take in their own community, like helping plant a community garden, to actions they can take that can help bees across the country, like donating to research funds, calling their legislature, signing petitions, or even volunteering time to log information about local colonies for studies.

We think this will be an effective way to encourage shoppers to play a more active role in helping the bees. By having them pick their favorite fruit, the shopper is predisposed to care more about that fruit than a preselected one. Looking at individual states and how they compare emphasizes the problem of bee loss across the different states. Allowing the user to explore different the values across the United States outside of the spoon-fed data gives the experience a more personal feeling. If we had more time to iterate, we would focus on adding more data to the US map. Currently, the map focuses on only colony loss data. However, it could be augmented to add lower-level colony data or data relating to more fruits than what the user has currently selected.



USDA data on fruit production
Bee pollination improves crop quality, shelf life and commercial value

Margaret’s Datalog

Throughout the day I:

  • Took a shower which created water usage data
  • Charged my phone/turned on lights which created electricity usage data
  • Visited websites on my phone which created web traffic data
  • Sent Facebook messages to my friends which created communication data
  • Used my ID card to tap into buildings which created entrance log data
  • Added myself to a lab queue which collects queue usage and timing data
  • Walked to/from campus as well as across the Harvard Bridge while my phone collected location and “health” (number of steps) data
  • Called my parents which created phone call data
  • Swiped my credit card to buy a drink which created transaction data about my account as well as in Kung Fu Tea’s database
  • Sent emails for a club which was stored in an Google Drive archive and created communication data about my account and the recipients

The World According to China

Original Article

As China’s GDP increases relative to the rest of the world, its investments in foreign countries has also increased. Before 2005, China had “no major investment in Africa”. However, in 2013, China invested in over three times as many countries around the world including over ten African countries.

The article “The World According to China” zooms in and out on a world map while using captions and text overlays to tell the story. The main visualization takes a look at China’s share of each country’s foreign investments as well as the risk associated with that country.

The author’s target audience is those interested in political aspects of China’s recent investments. Through deep dives into the industries receiving Chinese money in countries where the US seems to be withdrawing resources, the author aims to prove that China’s investments are worrying and could have harmful effects on “Western” initiatives in the future.

I think the visualization was effective in giving numbers to connect to a vague idea that I had seen thrown around. It was also effective in convincing me that China was heavily benefiting from investing in countries that were in turmoil.

“China’s money has made it harder for Western-led institutions like the World Bank to demand economic reforms and environmental standards. In all, China was the largest investor in five of the 10 riskiest countries in the world.” 

While the build up made me feel informed enough to draw conclusions, I believe that some of the explanatory text were not as effective as it could have been. For example, the final sentence would have had more impact if it was a conclusion or a description of the effect of the information given instead of another statistic.