Lucid key best practices

These best practices were adapted from the Lucid Player Help pages as well as from Lucid training workshops. You can access the complete Lucid Player Help pages by clicking on your key's question mark button (the right-most button in the key's menu bar).

During an identification session, Lucid allows you to choose any sign or indication of a honey bee health condition (i.e., a feature and its associated states) from the Features Available list at any time. However, "stepping" through the key in a structured and sensible way will make your task of identification more efficient. Below are recommendations for increasing your efficiency and decreasing the amount of time required for diagnosing your hive's situation using a Lucid key.

Note and use distinctive features

Some conditions may exhibit particularly distinctive features and/or states. Use of these may allow the condition to be keyed out in just a few steps. At the very least, starting with any particularly distinctive or striking features you see may quickly reduce the list of Entities Remaining.

Answer easy features first

When you first start the key, you must select a state from the first feature, "What are you observing or where is it happening."   Then, browse the list of Features Available and address easy features first. The principles of dichotomous keys, in which the couplets must be answered in a preset order, are very familiar to most key users who often automatically apply these principles to a matrix key. Although Lucid lists the features of a key in an initial sequence in the opening window, this does not mean that the features must be selected in that order. You can select any feature from any position in the list. Note that in this key, where "positive dependencies" are used (such as with the first feature), when you choose certain feature states, other features become available.

Most Lucid keys will have a wide variety of features, ranging from obvious and simple features to features that may be difficult to interpret or rarely seen. It may help to start by browsing the list of Features Available for obvious features that you can quickly answer. Lucid is designed to overcome problems associated with difficult features.

It's okay to skip features

In looking through the features, you may not be sure which state of a feature to choose, or a feature or state may not be clearly seen in your hive. Skipping the feature entirely in such cases is always an option.

Use feature state photos

As you work through the list of Features Available, you may find some features or feature states that you do not understand. If so, view the photos that are linked to the states, which are intended to illustrate them. You may want to check the illustrations before using any feature for the first time, and to become familiar with these for all the features.

Choosing multiple states

You can always choose multiple states (more than one state of a feature) if you are uncertain which state is the correct one to choose for a particular condition. Lucid is designed to allow you to choose as many states as you require from any one feature (if, for example, your condition is in between two states, or exhibits two or more states). Within the program's logic, these states will be connected by an "or" link. This will cause Lucid to search for all conditions with any of the states you select. As a general rule, if you are unsure which of two or more states your hive's situation exhibits, then choose them all. That way, you can be sure that your target condition will remain in Entities Remaining.

Finding the best feature to address next

When you have dealt with all the obvious features, use Lucid's "Best" function (the "magic wand" icon) to suggest the remaining feature that will give you the most efficient next step. The Best algorithm will assess which of the remaining features and states available will best reduce the list of Entities Remaining. Clicking the Best button will cause the Player to move to and open the best available feature. Press the button repeatedly to navigate through the Features list, if you have difficulty addressing the first feature nominated. If the list of entities in Entities Remaining changes after choosing a feature as suggested by Best, you should click the Best button again to recalculate the best feature to address next.

Other Lucid4 Player tools

You may find other Lucid4 tools helpful while navigating feature choices, such as ShortcutsPrune Redundants, and Differences. Explanations about how to use these functions are available through the Lucid Player Help menu.

What if no conditions remain?

This will happen sooner or later in one of your Lucid sessions. If no conditions are listed in the Entities Remaining window, then it simply means that no conditions in the Lucid key database match the set of states you have selected. Several explanations are possible, but these are some of the most common:

  • You have made an error in one or more of states you have selected.
  • Your hive's condition may not be included in the key. In this case Lucid cannot lead you to the condition because its features are not represented in the key's data tables.
  • The key author may have made an error when constructing the key, which is possible. If, after carefully checking all the features and states and checking that the condition you are attempting to diagnose would be expected to be included in the key, then a key construction error may be present.  Please let us know if you find such an error:

Whichever of the above situations is suspected, you can review your chosen features and determine which ones you are uncertain about. Try unselecting uncertain states one by one to see what effect each has. One or more conditions may move back into the Entities Remaining window. In difficult cases, you may need to "play" with the key, adding or deleting states progressively to try to find the best matching condition.

What if several conditions remain?

While you may often end up with just one condition remaining, sometimes, after you have addressed a number of features, you may have a short list of conditions remaining instead of just one condition. You are still much closer to a diagnosis than you otherwise would have been. You may then check your condition against the key's associated entity images and linked fact sheets, which contain descriptions, images, and more for the remaining conditions or refer to more advanced or specialist references or sources, such as those in the "Resources" topic in the fact sheets.

In some cases, if you have a short list of conditions remaining, but do not want to address more features, it may be easier to check your condition against information in their linked fact sheets. This can sometimes be faster than trying to find a feature that will discriminate among the remaining conditions. If your hive's situation does not match any of the conditions remaining, you can use the same strategy described above, of unselecting states one by one, or "playing" with the key, to find the best matching condition.

Checking the result

Once you have made a preliminary diagnosis, check other information (descriptions from the fact sheet or the filterable image gallery) provided for the condition. Getting a possible condition from the key may not be definitive. You may have made errors in choosing states, or your particular hive situation may not be a condition in the key. In these cases, the key may have provided you with the wrong condition. The associated fact sheet will often give you a good indication as to whether the answer is correct. If your hive condition is not covered, please let us know by contacting