Professional Development Program in Apiculture and Pollination

Final Report for ENC03-072

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2003: $81,412.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $14,484.00
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Stu Jacobson
University of Illinois at Springfield
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

This project is designed to increase awareness and knowledge about the importance of beekeeping and pollination among agricultural educators so that they will incorporate this information into their programs. For this purpose, four Power Point presentations were developed on: Biology of Honey Bees, Native Bees, Pollination and stinging Insects. These were “delivered” using two different approaches. (1) Face-to-face workshops of 4-5 hours at 14 Extension offices to 257 agricultural educators, including Master Gardeners; (2) A distance learning approach using a TeleNet system to deliver four, two-hour sessions to 211 agricultural educators in 28 county offices. In addition, more detailed talks on pollination topics with four other Power Point presentations were also made at four meetings to 146 persons, primarily growers and some agricultural educators. Evaluations of the workshops showed that participants rated their experience highly, especially the “hands on” opening of a small beehive. Workshop participants increased their understanding of a number of topics related to specific Short-Term Outcomes. They also identified how they were planning to use the information. Participants in the distance learning programs also rated them highly: 85% were very satisfied- satisfied (55% and 30% respectively). They also increased their understanding of topics related to Intermediate Outcomes and identified those topics that they would emphasize in providing information to growers and the public.

Project Objectives:

This project used outcomes rather than objectives.

Short Term Outcomes
Educator Awareness:
Role of beekeeping and pollination in agriculture and human nutrition.

Educator Knowledge:
Importance of pollination for fruit & vegetable production; how to protect pollinators from insecticides.
How to be a knowledgeable consumer of pollination services (pollination standards, etc.)
Importance of a network of beekeeping and grower’s associations as sources of information and industry support.
Basic beekeeping, role of honeybees in pollination.
Increased knowledge of specific needs and of barriers and problems of beekeeping industry.

Educator Attitudes:
Importance of working with beekeepers and those interested in apiculture.

Educator Skills:
Identify how to obtain research-based information on beekeeping/pollination (via Extension & project publications/presentations)
How beekeeping can be integrated into sustainable small and mid-size farms beekeeping into farm operations increases.

Intermediate Outcomes
Educator Behavior/Practice:
4-H Leaders, classroom & vo-ag teachers incorporate into teaching.
Educators develop programs, including information on alternative pollinators.
Educators assist in the development of networks, including using associations as sources of information.
4-H educators & leaders provide information to youth.
Educators provide needed information and assist service providers to improve beekeeper access to resources.
Educators work with beekeeping sector in forming advisory groups, partnerships and networks.
Educators interact with farmers & beekeepers to identify research and education needs.
Educators increase knowledge of sustainable farmers re: beekeeping.

Long Term Outcomes/Systemic Changes
Educator changes result in: Increased awareness among youth of the importance of beekeeping and pollination.
Changes in educator behavior result in: More growers making better decisions resulting in improved pollination and crop production. Growers implement practices that reduce pesticide damage. More growers become knowledgeable consumers of pollination services.
Educator’s efforts to develop networks results in: Networks that facilitate growers locating pollinating beekeepers and vice versa. Increased association contacts with growers, youth and other persons interested in beekeeping.
Educator and volunteer changes result in: More youth conducting beekeeping projects and more successful projects.
Educators’ programs with beekeepers result in: More beekeepers using business & marketing plans; more beekeepers receiving loans and crop insurance.
Partnerships between educators and other stakeholder groups provide: Opportunities to conduct on-farm research projects. Beekeepers provide input into on-farm research projects and programming and local policy issues.
Partnership of beekeepers and other stakeholders resulting in: Increased number of persons accessing research-based information on beekeeping. Number of farmers integrating beekeeping into farm operations increases.

Introduction:

About one-third of the nation’s food supply is directly or indirectly dependent on insect pollination and the vast majority of the pollination of crops is by honeybees. This is especially true of nutritious fruits and vegetables. In Illinois and the country as a whole, the vast majority of farmers, the public and decision makers are unaware of the role of beekeeping/pollination in human nutrition and rural economies. Perhaps to a lesser degree, this is also true of the state’s agricultural educators. In fact, honey bees and other pollinators play an important role in agricultural diversification and further development of sustainable agriculture, as well as the health of rural communities.

Unfortunately, the sustainability of beekeeping and therefore of farms which grow fruits and vegetables is threatened by several factors. Misuse of pesticides by some growers and home owners is an ongoing problem in certain areas. A major concern is that over the past 12 years the numbers of beekeepers and colonies has declined over 50% in Illinois and elsewhere. Much of this decline is attributed to devastations caused by the parasitic Varroa mite. While there are chemical means of control, there are increasing levels of resistance both in the Varroa mites and the bacterial disease, American Foul Brood, to chemicals used to control them. While Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies for these diseases are being developed, in many cases these will be too late for beekeepers, many of whom are over sixty years old and leaving the industry. Beekeeping is labor intensive, and historically low honey prices and high labor costs make it difficult to make enough income to stay in beekeeping–even on a part-time basis. The Small Hive Beetle poses yet another threat, although primarily a problem in the SE US. One growing threat is due to the spread of the Africanized bee in the US. As this insect increases in numbers in populated areas such as southern California, the number of stinging incidents and deaths will increase. This will cause over-reactions by public and politicians, such as banning beekeeping anywhere near to human habitation. There is a need for greater understanding of the roles of honey bees and related insects, especially in relation to production of food. Increasing growers’ understanding of pollination processes and cooperation with beekeepers are also important for the sustainability of production of highly nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Mark Hoard

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

This project is designed to increase awareness and knowledge about the importance of beekeeping and pollination among agricultural educators, including Master Gardeners, so that they will use the information in their programs. Four Power Point presentations were developed on the following topics: Basic Biology of Honey Bees, Identification of Stinging Insects, Pollination of Crops and Native Bees. These were employed in 14 face-to-face workshops of 4-5 hours. Each talk was followed by a period for questions and many were asked as well during the presentations. Except for a few during the colder months, the workshops almost always included half hour sessions in which 8-10 participants at a time were able to go into a small bee hive and observe the different castes, eggs, larvae and pupae, and pollen and nectar in the combs. The hive contained a small colony of young, gentle bees and was transported to the different workshops. Each participant was given a veil and gloves for protection.

A second approach used involved distance learning via a TeleNet system to deliver two different sessions which were repeated twice. In these cases Master Gardeners were targeted in addition to a number of Extension educators. For this purpose CDs with the four Power Points were distributed to the 28 participating Extension offices prior to the sessions. During each scheduled session the project coordinator gave the presentations with the audio transmitted to the participating offices; the slides were projected in each office in synchrony with the talks. There were 211 total participants in these sessions.

A third approach involved presentations on pollination topics to growers, including to 57 persons in two three-hour sessions at Extension sponsored meetings of fruit and vegetable growers. For this purpose three additional Power Point presentations were developed, including on the pollination requirements of specific crops and on “How to be a successful consumer of pollination services. In addition, a one-hour presentation was made to 19 growers at the 2005 Illinois Specialty Growers Conference and a shorter talk was given to about 70 persons attending a 2005 Pumpkin Growers School. In each case there were 1-4 educators attending the workshops.

Outreach and Publications

Publications and Educational Materials

Hoard, M. and S. Jacobson. 2004. Pollination of small fruits, especially strawberries. Proceedings of the 2004 Small Fruit and Strawberry Schools. Pages 34-39.

Jacobson, S. and M. Hoard. 2004. Factsheet: Recommendations for optimum pollination of Illinois horticultural crops. University of Illinois at Springfield.

Jacobson, S. 2004. Factsheet: Identification of major groups of stinging insects. University of Illinois at Springfield.

Jacobson, S and M. Hoard. 2006. Beekeeping and pollination education project. A CD with four Power Point presentations on beekeepiing, native bees, stinging insects and pollination, used in NCR SARE Project ENC03-072 workshops. University of Illinois at Springfield

Outcomes and impacts:
  • Short Term Outcomes
    Educator Awareness:
    Role of beekeeping and pollination in agriculture and human nutrition.
    Educator Knowledge:
    Importance of pollination for fruit & vegetable production; how to protect pollinators from insecticides.
    How to be a knowledgeable consumer of pollination services (pollination standards, etc.)
    Importance of a network of beekeeping and grower’s associations as sources of information and industry support.
    Basic beekeeping, role of honeybees in pollination.
    Increased knowledge of specific needs and of barriers and problems of beekeeping industry.
    Educator Attitudes
    Importance of working with beekeepers and those interested in apiculture.
    Educator Skills
    Identify how to obtain research-based information on beekeeping/pollination (via Extension & project publications/presentations)
    How beekeeping can be integrated into sustainable small and mid-size farms beekeeping into farm operations increases.

    Intermediate Outcomes
    Educator Behavior/Practice:
    4-H Leaders, classroom & vo-ag teachers incorporate into teaching.
    Educators develop programs, including information on alternative pollinators.
    Educators assist in the development of networks, including using associations as sources of information.
    4-H educators & leaders provide information to youth.
    Educators provide needed information and assist service providers to improve beekeeper access to resources.
    Educators work with beekeeping sector in forming advisory groups, partnerships and networks.
    Educators interact with farmers & beekeepers to identify research and education needs.
    Educators increase knowledge of sustainable farmers re: beekeeping.

    Long Term Outcomes/Systemic Changes
    Educator changes result in: Increased awareness among youth of the importance of beekeeping and pollination.
    Changes in educator behavior result in: More growers making better decisions resulting in improved pollination and crop production. Growers implement practices that reduce pesticide damage. More growers become knowledgeable consumers of pollination services.
    Educator’s efforts to develop networks results in: Networks that facilitate growers locating pollinating beekeepers and vice versa. Increased association contacts with growers, youth and other persons interested in beekeeping.
    Educator and volunteer changes result in: More youth conducting beekeeping projects and more successful projects.
    Educators’ programs with beekeepers result in: More beekeepers using business & marketing plans; more beekeepers receiving loans and crop insurance.
    Partnerships between educators and other stakeholder groups provide: Opportunities to conduct on-farm research projects. Beekeepers provide input into on-farm research projects and programming and local policy issues.
    Partnership of beekeepers and other stakeholders resulting in: Increased number of persons accessing research-based information on beekeeping. Number of farmers integrating beekeeping into farm operations increases.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

Table 1 summarizes the number of participants and presentations in the three types of programs. As stated above, Four Power Point presentations were developed and “delivered” using two different approaches. First face-to-face workshops of 4-5 hours each presented to 257 agricultural educators, including Master Gardeners, at 14 county Extension offices. One of the offices was in Jefferson County, Missouri. The second approach was a distance learning approach using a TeleNet system to deliver four sessions to 211 agricultural educators in 28 county offices. Repeated contacts were made with other Extension offices in that state to no avail. With both types of program the participants received handouts of each Power Point, allowing them to refer to the information later when needed.
Both the workshops and distance learning programs were aimed at the primary target audience of the project, agricultural educators. Talks were also given at growers’ meeting and this allowed project staff to learn more about growers’ questions and concerns regarding pollination and rental of pollinating colonies. At each presentation to growers, there were also one to three agricultural educators in the audiences.
————————————————-
Table 1. Summary of the SARE project’s professional development programs by category: numbers of educators reached with the number of sites in parentheses.
Year
2004 2005 2006
Type of Program
Workshops* 97 (6) 122 (6)** 38 (2)
Distance learning — — 211 (28)
Growers Meeting 57 (2) 89 (2) —

Total Participants 614
*Workshops included a hands-on opening of a small beehive, except for a relative few that occurred during cold weather.
** Includes one workshop in Missouri.
————————————————————————————————–

One adjustment that we made to our original plans was to arrange for workshops that target both Extension educational staff and Master Gardeners. Both in fact are agricultural educators, although the majority of persons interacting with the latter are most likely not farmers. During 2004 we observed that targeting only educators resulted in disappointingly small audiences. As it turns out, there are relatively few agricultural and horticultural educators in Extension in Illinois, after subtracting those who work with growers (mostly large scale) of corn and soybeans, two crops that do not require pollination by insects. Once we starting working through county Master Gardener coordinators, we found that overall attendance increased to an average of about 20 and we were reaching at least as many Extension educators as before. While targeting Master Gardeners proved necessary in order to reach more than a relatively few persons, the Intermediate and Long-Term Outcomes were unlikely to be effected by Master Gardeners. In addition, since the workshops became identified with the Master Gardener program, we found it difficult to attract educators and volunteers from other program areas. For example, we had anticipated attracting 4-H/Youth Development educators and volunteers. However, we were not successful in this endeavor. See also the section on Future Recommendations.

The distance learning/TeleNet sessions were organized by the University of Illinois’ Extension Master Gardener Coordinator and lasted about two hours; with topics repeated twice. Rather than trying to add a separate evaluation form, data were obtained from the evaluation forms used for all the Extension horticulture distance-learning programs. Written evaluations of the distance learning programs showed participants rated them highly: 85% were very satisfied- satisfied (55% and 30% respectively). In addition, 98% stated that information was presented clearly; 99% that they were able to ask questions; and 95% that the handouts were appropriate. They also identified those topics that they would emphasize in providing information to growers and the public. This information is provided below under Intermediate Outcomes.

Written evaluations of the face-to-face workshops as well as oral and written comments indicated that participants rated the presentations highly, especially the “hands on” opening of a small beehive. The evaluations showed that participants increased their understanding of the topics presented; they also identified how they were planning to use the information (see below). The evaluations provided information relevant to a number of Short-Term Outcomes. These outcomes are restated below along with data relevant to accomplishments for each of them; in a number of cases they have been put into groups of related topics. We used a “pre-post” evaluation based on a presentation at the November, 2003 PDP meeting in Nebraska City. With this approach, the evaluations are handed out at the end of the workshops and participants are asked to assess their gains in awareness or knowledge, or changes of attitude due to involvement in the workshop. The evaluation form used a scale of 1 to 5; 1 meaning having very little awareness (or knowledge or positive attitude) and 5 meaning having a substantial amount of knowledge, etc about a specific topic. A number of participants indicated that they increased their awareness or knowledge of the topics listed below to a level 5; in some cases they had started with a good deal of knowledge (level 3 or higher). The increases in knowledge, etc as judged by the participants themselves are listed below.

As a result of their participation in the workshops, agricultural educators including Master Gardeners indicated increased Awareness or Knowledge with respect to following Outcomes: Awareness of the role of beekeeping and pollination in agriculture and human nutrition; Knowledge of the importance of pollination for fruit and vegetable crops; Knowledge of the role of honeybees in pollination. The evaluation form had five items that addressed these outcomes related to pollination of food crops. These are listed below together with mean scores for increases in knowledge or awareness (maximum awareness, etc score is 5):
-Knowledge of basic processes of pollination showed a mean increase from 3.4 to 4.4.
-Knowledge of results of inadequate pollination increased from 3.3 to 4.6.
-Knowledge of importance of insects for pollination increased from 4.3 to 4.9.
-Knowledge of 8 Midwestern crops requiring pollination increased from 3.3 to 4.6.
-A positive attitude regarding honeybees increased from 4.1 to 5.0.

The Outcome — Educator knowledge of basic beekeeping — was addressed by the following two items:
-Knowledge of honey bee biology, which showed a mean increase from 3.4 to 4.7.
-Knowledge of the role of honeybee swarms, which showed an increase from 2.8 to 4.3.

The Outcome — Educator Knowledge of how to protect pollinators from insecticides — was addressed by the following question:
-Knowledge of precautions for spraying insecticides, which showed a mean increase of 4.0 to 4.4.

Additional questions related to protecting pollinators from insectidices addressed the issue of how to identify the major groups of stinging insects and how to assist consumers over the telephone to identify appropriate responses to these insects. These steps include decisions on what to do if one has identified a honey bee swarm or colony nearby. This is important because people often needlessly spray pollinators and other insects that they fear. Participants indicated an increase in their knowledge of these topics, as shown by the following:
– Knowledge of different stinging insects increased: 3.3 to 4.4 .
-Knowledge of how to assist the public to deal effectively with stinging insects increased: 3.0 to 4.4.

The Outcome — Educator skills on how to obtain research-based information on beekeeping/ pollination — was not assessed but was addressed in several Power Points and in the factsheet Pollination Requirements of Illinois Crops distributed to participants.
The U. of Illinois’ Extension horticulture TeleNet sessions use evaluation forms which ask participants to identify three things from the sessions that they plan to implement. In response, the 155 respondents identified the following topics, which are organized by objectives/outcomes. The topics below were mentioned at least twice; the number of times each was mentioned is in parentheses.

Regarding pesticides use and misuse:
Cut back on Sevin use (8)
Use fewer pesticides (19)
Don’t use pesticides during bloom time (7)

Regarding the related topic of identification of stinging insects so as to reduce effects of pesticides on pollinators:
ID stinging insects and bees (4)

Regarding the importance of bees, including native bees/insects for pollination:
Encourage more bees (8)
Create habitat for squash bees and blue orchard bees (3)

Regarding pollination related topics:
Control preferred dandelions and other weeds (9)
Avoid covering strawberry plants (4)

Participants also identified information form the presentations that was new to them. The following are the topics that were listed at least twice:
Killer bees don’t survive winter here (3)
Native pollinators stay close to home and are highly specific (2)
Blue orchard bees (4)
Differences in wasps (3)
Differences in bees (3)
Only honeybees leave stinger and die (4)
Dandelions more attractive than apple blossoms (2)
Native bees fly earlier and at lower temps than honeybees (2)
Nests on my house are paper wasps- not yellow jackets (2)
Bees not native to US (6)
Bees responsible for 1/3 of our food (7)
Bees have floral fidelity (2)
Kinds of bees (6)
Swarms (2)
Apple seeds and pollination (5)

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

The trainings were designed to increase the knowledge and understanding of the importance of honey bees for the pollination of fruits and vegetables, among other topics. As indicated above, educators, the vast majority of which were Master Gardeners, reported that they substantially increased awareness and knowledge of pollination topics and honey bee biology. Virtually all the workshop participants provide information, over the phone or face-to-face to members of the public, and less often to producers. While it is hard to gather direct data, based on their responses to the evaluations, it is reasonable to conclude that the participants have become more effective in providing information on the workshop topics to homeowners and growers of crops that necessitate insect pollination. The capacity of Extension educators to provide more detailed information on pollination and related topics is enhanced by the provision of CD which have the four Power Point presentations used both in the workshops and during the distance learning sessions. In addition, each of the four Power Point presentations was modified so that the Master Gardeners and educators could more readily use them to give public presentations. The main modification was the addition of explanatory notes for each slide.

Pollination of food crops is the most important role of honey bees. Two Long-Term Outcomes related to pollination were “Educator’s efforts to develop networks result in: Networks that facilitate growers locating pollinating beekeepers and vice versa; and Increased association contacts with growers, youth and other persons interested in beekeeping.” We do not have data regarding educators’ efforts in these directions. However, there were four presentations to almost 150 growers of fruits and vegetables. For example, the project coordinator provided information on pollination to about 70 growers at a field day on pumpkin production. Based on questions from the audience, it became clear that at least a number of them lacked an understanding of the importance of pollination for pumpkins. In addition, four growers were referred to beekeeping associations in their areas for the purposes of finding someone to pollinate their crops. (This was also done at two meetings with growers during 2004). However, as explained in the section on Future Recommendations, networks of growers and beekeepers will necessitate active involvement by state and local beekeeping associations.

It is widely believed that householders use greater amounts of insecticides than farmers. To the “average” consumer the only good stinging insect is a dead one. This frequently leads to unnecessary overuse of insecticides. Workshop participants stated that they increased their knowledge of identification of stinging insects and appropriate methods to control them. The workshop presentation on stinging insects emphasized the point that many of these species do not merit treatment with insecticides. At the same time, other species (e.g., the bald-faced hornet) frequently should be sprayed and require extreme care in doing so. To the degree that Extension educators and volunteers can assist those who call about stinging insects, these callers/consumers will benefit from making better choices.

Future projects similar to the current one should place greater emphasis on involving state or local beekeeping associations in project planning, even as the success of this strategy will depend on the responsiveness of those associations. Realization of several of this project’s Long-Term Outcomes depend on involvement of both beekeepers’ and growers’ association. These include “Changes in educator behavior result in more growers making better decisions resulting in improved pollination and crop production; growers implement practices that reduce pesticide damage; more growers become knowledgeable consumers of pollination services.” Another outcome identified was “Educator’s efforts … result in: Networks that facilitate growers locating pollinating beekeepers and vice versa.” To be realized, these outcomes will need active involvement of both the Illinois State Beekeepers Association (ISBA) and local beekeeping associations. At this point, the ISBA has new leadership that has made other progressive changes, and it may be more open to reaching out to networks of growers. An important, necessary step will be for the ISBA to rebuild relationships with growers and rejoin the Illinois Specialty Growers Association (ISGA), which represents fruit and vegetable growers. The ISGA’s annual meeting would present opportunities to increase grower understanding of pollination and misuse of pesticides. The meeting’s workshops provide occasions for beekeepers to impart information on pollination and related topics to growers, to exchange ideas with them and to have a booth which would provide names of pollinating beekeepers.

Two other Long-Term Outcome were “Increased (beekeeping) association contacts with growers, youth and other persons interested in beekeeping; and Educator and volunteer changes result in: More youth conducting beekeeping projects and more successful projects.” In hindsight, a greater attempt should have made by project staff to make contacts with Youth Development/4-H staff regarding participation in the workshops. As is true for networks between growers and beekeepers, increased contact with youth and others partly depends on local beekeeping association initiative. Developing ongoing relationships with Extension Youth Development staff and 4-H volunteers would be the most obvious way to encourage more youth to try beekeeping. At least five local associations already have beekeeping classes offered to the public; in many cases in cooperation with Extension offices. The average age of beekeepers, like other farmers, continues to increase and there is a clear need to recruit more youth. Greater cooperation between local associations and Extension Youth Development/4-H staff and volunteers is key to increasing participation of youth in beekeeping classes and in the craft itself.

In the section on Potential Contributions, it was mentioned that four of the Power Point presentations were modified with additional explanatory notes so that the Master Gardeners and educators could more readily use them to give public presentations. Of course, this step alone may be insufficient in some cases to motivate educators and volunteers to use the CDs as part of their programs. At this point, the best opportunity that Extension staff and volunteers will utilize the CDs may be individuals in the state and local beekeeping associations strengthening relationships with Extension beyond using the offices to have meetings and/or giving classes on beekeeping.
Unlike the situation earlier, the project coordinator has greater access to the leadership of the Illinois State Beekeepers Association. It is my intent to work with the leadership of the and several local beekeeping associations to carry out at least some of the recommendations made above.

Postscript

At the end of 2004, Mark Hoard, the project’s Co-Principal Investigator, was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. He continued to work during much of the course of his illness and was characteristically apologetic when he was not able to do so. Mark passed away in October, 2005, survived by his wife and two sons. This project would not have existed without Mark’s vision and commitment.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.