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April 30, 2018

Makeover Monday: Annual Change in American Bee Colonies

This week Makeover Monday is collaboration with #VizForSocialGood to analyze bee colonies in America. The data and visualization come from Bee Informed.

What works well?

  • When you hover over a state, the value is indicated on the color legend.
  • Informative tooltips
  • Good filtering capabilities to customize the view
  • Very responsive tooltips
  • Displaying the states and territories outside the continental US separately

What could be improved?

  • A diverging color scale is typically used to indicate positive and negative values. In this case, all values are positive.
  • If you do want to use a diverging palette, the colors should merge at the median.
  • A filled map makes smaller state difficult to compare to larger states.
  • There's no sense of the change over time. Are colonies increasing or decreasing?

My Goals

  • Create small multiple maps that show each year
  • Make the story about the change, rather than the specific values
  • Use highlight actions to make it easy to see a state across all maps
  • Incorporate the total annual loss into the tooltip


  1. This is interesting work, though I find the labeling confusing. If yellow is an increase and red is a decrease, why do all the hovers have "Total Annual Bee Population Loss" as a metric with positive value?
    Furthermore, the bar chart is showing population loss as a positive number, and gain as a negative number. I understand to a certain extent what you mean (the negative is the opposite of loss, the dashboard is about loss) but it's still confusing.
    Lastly, if I want to see the overall bar trend for a state, I have to hover over the state in one of the maps - it doesn't stick. This negates the efficacy of the hover-function in the bar chart.

    1. The hover was meant to represent the additional data that is available in the original. The numbers in the tooltip represent the values for each hexagon. I was worried including the Total Annual Bee Population Loss in the tooltip might be confusing, and it looks like it was. Thanks for confirming I wasn't clear. I should have left it out as my instinct told me to.

      As for the bar trend, if you click on a state, the bar chart sticks.