Discussion and conclusion

The digital image processing (Wang & Claßen, 2011, Jeker et al., 2012) improves the evaluation of the honey bee brood development. It reduces the stress for the honey bee colony as well as unnatural influences on the brood development caused by long lasting manual assessments. Due to the fast and standardised photo taking procedure, a high photo quality can be guaranteed and the number of brood cells to be evaluated is almost unlimited. Nevertheless, practical experience has proved that the evaluation of a high number of brood cells is time-consuming and thus it was suggested that the evaluation of 200 to 400 brood cells should be sufficient (Pistorius et al., 2012). Future innovations could produce a more automated evaluation (e.g. automatic determination of the brood stages) and also the exact determination of the brood and food status on colony level.