Final report for NENH17-001
The New Hampshire agricultural economy relies heavily on healthy and widespread honey bee populations, as do agricultural economies across the nation. While there is increasing recognition of the role that native insects play in crop pollination, farmers, particularly vegetable and fruit producers, depend heavily on honeybees for this service. The 2012 Department of Agriculture census reports 268 farms maintaining bees (45% increase from 2007) with 2,912 managed colonies (53% increase). It is believe this number is greatly under-reported as NH does not have mandatory reporting for bee colonies, and these numbers do not reflect the number of beekeepers who may not farm, but who nonetheless raise bees on or near farms. Not including pollination services, the production and sale of honey from NH bees represents a $319,000 agricultural market.
New Hampshire beekeepers rely on volunteer-run clubs and online resources from other regions of the country for information. There was a 65% + overwinter colony loss in 2016/17 according to a survey by the State Beekeepers Association. This program sought to address these challenges through a three-tiered approach, which consisted of:
- NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network: establishing a disease and pest diagnostic network for the major honeybee pests in NH
- NH Bee School Instructor Training: developing a beekeeping education network to meet the diverse skill levels of NH producers
- NH Queen Producers Network: developing a network of queen breeders’ to raise and sell queens suited to our climate and existing pest problems
The 25 members of the NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network were first trained in using microscopes, and identifying nosema, who in turned identified a reported 133 nosema samples for other beekeepers. After success of the nosmea diagnostics, the model was replicated with a mite testing campaign, followed by the development of a ‘Deadout CSI’ tool, then ‘NH is Blooming’ project, and a 2020/21 moisture management in hives study. All of this work was built off the initial NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network established by this SARE PDP program. Through the diagnostic network and associated educational campaigns, testing services and diagnosis, New Hampshire’s annual winter colony losses have declined from a high of 65% loss at the project inception to 35% loss in 2019/20. While the program initially focused on the management of nosema, we have evolved to focus on engaging citizen scientists in honey bee research to advance their own knowledge, expertise and understanding.
The NH Bee School Instructor Training engaged 13 individuals in a 4-week online course. A one day in-person training was held at the culmination of the online course when students shared their own curriculum and hands-on activities. Both immediate and long-term post training evaluations of 7 participants showed that they made significant changes in their teaching methods to include more hands-on activities, including breaks in learning events, teaching to student strengths, planning curriculum as a team, and removal of some content to allow for more review. Participants asked that the material be available to them after the training was complete and it was migrated to the Honey Bee Diagnostic site under its own subpage, where it has had 99 page views.
Six beekeepers were selected for the NH Queen Producers Network from 29 applicants. One training event took place June 8-9, 2019, led by the Cornell Dyce Lab for Honey Bee studies, with all participants agreeing it was “the highlight of their summer”. The queen network has also hosted one field-day, and four Zoom webinars focused on their own needs. Each queen producer has started to sell queen bees in the state with hopes to grow their business in the future. An estimated 583 queens have been raised or sold by the 6 participants, primarily during the 2020 season. The value of the queens alone is estimated between $14,575-$23,320, sold as an overwintered nucleus colony the value is much greater.
Performance target 1: A newly developed NH Bee Diagnostic Network, consisting of 10-trained individuals, working in each of NH’s 10 Counties, will provide basic diagnostic services to 40 beekeepers. Additionally they will provide education on nosema and mite management to 100 beekeepers who manage 200 bee colonies.
Performance target 2: Twenty-four beekeeping educators will implement new curriculum and gain new skills in effective adult education methods to successfully facilitate effective learning episodes that make the learning stick. This will benefit 150 beekeepers, who manage 300 honeybee colonies on 600 acres.
Performance target 3: Five members of a newly formed NH queen-breeding network will raise and sell queens, specifically bred for targeted traits, to 40 NH beekeepers.
The New Hampshire agricultural economy relies heavily on healthy and widespread honeybee populations, as do agricultural economies across the nation. While there is increasing recognition of the role that native insects play in crop pollination, farmers, particularly vegetable and fruit producers, depend heavily on honeybees for this service. The 2012 Department of Agriculture census reports 268 farms maintaining bees (45% increase from 2007) with 2,912 managed colonies (53% increase). It is believe this number is greatly under-reported as NH does not have mandatory reporting for bee colonies, and these numbers do not reflect the number of beekeepers who may not farm, but who nonetheless raise bees on or near farms. Not including pollination services, the production and sale of honey from NH bees represents a $319,000 agricultural market.
Over the past 2 decades, NH has experienced a slow degradation of its beekeeping infrastructure and an increase in bee colony loss, and several contributing factors are recognized. New Hampshire has no state inspector or inspection program to monitor pests and diseases, which has resulted in misdiagnosis of problems or problems going unrecognized until colonies collapse. The state has no university-based experts and a volunteer-led state beekeeping association lacking in skilled instructors and consistency of educational content. Beekeepers rely on volunteer-run clubs and online resources from other regions of the country for information. An additional high priority problem affecting the state’s beekeepers and health of the bees is the importation of bees from other regions of the country that are often not adapted to our northern climate. All of these factors have contributed to a 60% + overwinter colony loss in 2016/17 according to a survey by the State Beekeepers Association. As these problems are challenging the beekeeping infrastructure, NH is also experiencing an upswell in interest in keeping bees, as evidenced by bee-schools reaching capacity enrollment. This swell of new beekeepers is stretching the capacity of volunteers, and stressing the already-weak support system. This program seeks to address these challenges through a three-tiered approach, which consists of:
- Establishing a disease and pest diagnostic network for the major honeybee pests in NH
- Developing a beekeeping education network that addresses the diverse skill levels of NH producers
- Developing a network of queen producers to raise and sell queens with favorable traits and temperament including being suited to our climate and existing pest problems
Our educational approach uses hands-on or active learning. Two hands-on events were conducted for the Honeybee Diagnostic Network Training. These workshops taught participants to use and care for a microscope, to identify Nosema spores under the microscope, and to determine the level of infection within a honeybee hive. We provided instruction on how to report testing data into the database. Participants were asked to bring samples to the training to practice the technique under the eye of the trainers. Participants also brought sample to test during the second training event. We asked participants to follow the protocol during the workshop and monitored their progress. We provided input on their technique of analyzing the samples, and assisted when necessary. During this second training, we were able to fix tools that had not been functioning, and provide additional supplies as requested by participants (ie: loops, higher quality hemocytometer slides, kim wipes, etc.). Each of our 24 trainees were able to participate in the second training focused on honing in their microscope skills. During the second training event we also focused on refreshing our knowledge related to management of Nosema cerena and clarified questions that had arisen. We also clarified how the network would function throughout the state, especially if a beekeeper was not already engaged with a local club. It was very important to conduct two independent training events. Many complex topics were taught and new ideas relayed to participants. Students needed time for this new information to settle in and for questions to arise. Only after the second training event did participants feel confident enough in the subject area to teach others about the program and testing service.
Program evaluation for the Diagnostic Network was dynamic and ongoing. Following the initial training event, we adapted the training events and our communication based on participant input. As we plan to continue to work with these volunteer diagnosticians on an ongoing basis, we have made it clear that program feedback is welcome at any time. This allows the program to remain flexible and dynamic to best fit the needs of our trainees as well as the beekeeping community in New Hampshire. Initially we had planned to conduct a hive-side training of honeybee maladies, however we shifted the focus of the second training event based on participant feedback. Following our initial training and distribution of microscopes and supplies, it became clear the participants were not yet confident in using the microscope or in analyzing bee samples. This feedback justified the need for an additional small group training event focused on using the microscope.
Beekeeping Education Network
Our approach to the beekeeping education network followed a similar active learning style. Our goal for the beekeeping education network was to familiarize bee school educators with effective methods and best practices of teaching adults. We did this thru creating learning modules in a 4-week online course using Canvas. Each module had its own learning outcomes and activities built into the learning. We monitored progress by tracking student’s participation in canvas and by requiring students to upload self-reflection documents, lesson designs, and activity designs that they created for use in their bee school classes. Each module paired reading assignments with short complimentary video clips and hands on assignments. To culminate the educational program, we held an in-person training where students brought the material they had developed during the training to share and discuss with other participants. We conducted a program evaluation at the end of the event.
MILESTONES 1 - 16 DESCRIBE ACTIVITIES OF HONEYBEE PEST AND DISEASE DIAGNOSTICS NETWORK
40 Beekeeping educators (NH State Beekeepers Association and Beekeeping Club leaders, UNH Cooperative Extension staff, and State Department of Agriculture staff) will receive an invitation to participate in the beekeepers diagnostic training. The invitation will be sent by UNH Cooperative Extension in conjunction with the NH Beekeepers State Association. At least ten beekeepers, one from each NH County, will be identified as the point person for diagnostics in their region. (November 2017).
Announcements were sent out and shared via the NH Beekeepers association newsletter and directly recruited by the NH-SARE coordinator. The press release was also picked up by the popular press and included in the Concord Monitor, a statewide newspaper, which resulted in additional applicants to the program. There was an application process to participate in the program, which was posted on the NH Beekeepers Association website.
10 beekeeping educators participate in a 1-day workshop on diagnosis of honeybee pests and diseases, taught by Tony Jadzak. During this event, participants will increase their general understanding and treatment options of insect and disease pests of the honeybee (including Nosema, European & American foulbrood, chalkbrood, Varroa mite, small hive beetle, and wax moth). Our primary target will be training diagnosticians on testing protocol and positive identification for nosema, while building skills to use and care for a microscope. Printed resources and testing protocols will be provided. (February 2018).
Former Maine State Bee Inspector Tony Jadzack was recruited to teach the Nosema identification method to the Diagnostic Network Volunteers. We had enough interest that each county/region (10 counties in NH) was able to have two or more participants in the network. Microscopes provided by the grant were divided up by region, and assigned to the beekeeper with the most years of experience. Each participant was asked to bring a minimum number of bees for testing of Nosema, using the protocols provided. This allowed for hands on learning during the training session. The instructor provided an overview and history of the disease, including recommended management of the disease to improve colony survival. We had additional experts on hand to help assist and teach the volunteers how to use their new microscope.
The primary focus of this training was on Nosema (ceranae and apis spp.). This particular disease is less well understood and studied in New Hampshire, can be easily tested for with the use of a microscope, and is often a contributing factor in colony death in cold climates when the bees are confined. For these reasons, the diagnostic network training focused on this one disease, with the hopes that participants will become experts in diagnosing and managing for the disease. We hope in the future to be able to provide these participants with training on some of the other pressing diseases affecting the honey bee in New Hampshire.
40 NH beekeeper educators/diagnosticians will receive a set of pest management factsheets (from other states or organizations) for each pest. These fact sheets will also be publicly available to NH beekeepers via the NH beekeepers website, and the UNH Cooperative Extension website. (February 2018).
Participants in the training received a number of handouts from the instructor, as well as the NH-SARE coordinator. Two nosema testing protocols were also shared and made publicly available. All resources were also posted to the Diagnostics Network website for future download which is available to both the trained volunteers as well as the general public. Resources from the University of Guelph, Cornell University and eXtension have been shared on the NH Diagnsotics Network webpage.
10 beekeeping educators will participate in an online training as a follow up to the initial workshop. This online distance education platform will include visual aids and pest management factsheets, a forum for sharing questions with each other, and continue pest and disease diagnostic group discussions. (March 2018). Tony Jadczak and the NH SARE State Coordinator will lead discussion.
A permanent website was developed by the SARE program assistant to be a resource for the trainee as well as the general public to learn about disease insects and pests of honeybees in New Hampshire. This site has information on how to submit bees for diagnosis of Nosema, what signs might indicate infection, sanitary guidelines and recommended management if a hive has a high level of infection.
Additionally there is a private page, requiring a log-in code for the trainees of the diagnostic network. This page includes reporting guidelines, protocols, a chat room and a place to upload photos. This is an internal communication site for the participants of the training.
This website and private page functioned as the online-training portion as proposed, where resources can be accessed, and the chat room used. Participants can access scientific articles on the subject of nosema management via the website.
The link to the website is as follows:
The website has recorded 3,944 site sessions, 2600 unique visitors, with an average visit 32 minutes since the launch of the site in 2018 thru December 2020. The site continues to evolve and be used as a tool for education and information sharing.
10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians will utilize the online platform as a sharing station for posting disease and pest photos and questions to the group throughout the season. This will facilitate a community of learning and sharing of information. (March-November 2018).
All participants have logged in and have access to resources posted to the site.
10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians respond to post-session evaluation questions about their confidence level in diagnosing honeybee pest and diseases; the project team will use this information to determine what additional training and resources are necessary. The survey will also ask how they will train others in their region on pest identification.
We created a “skills list” for Nosema (spp) evaluation that participants filled out after their initial training. We asked them to evaluate their level of knowledge related to the isolation, analysis and evaluation of Nosema spores using a microscope. After collection of these evaluations, we learned that participants were confident in understanding the life cycle of the pathogen, but were not yet comfortable using their new microscope. After identifying this need, we organized a follow up training focused on using and understanding how microscopes work. Our follow up training focused on ‘getting to know your tool’.
Members of the NH Beekeepers Association receive news of the new diagnostic network via the NH Market Bulletin (a statewide newsletter) and the NH Beekeepers Newsletter in an article written by the NH SARE Coordinator. Information on how to utilize the diagnostic network will be housed on the NH Beekeepers website and spread via social media. (May 2018).
The NH-SARE Coordinator and Project Assistant worked with the UNH Extension marketing team to write a series of press releases to be sent to a wide audience throughout the state. This news article was also posted to the UNH Extension website and shared via social media. On June 21st the NH SARE Coordinator spoke about the program on the NHPR radio show “The Exchange” which has a statewide listening audience.
The NH SARE PDP coordinator wrote an article for the State Beekeepers Winter 2018/19 newsletter, which has a statewide audience. Shorter articles were also shared with our trainees to share in their individual club newsletters.
10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians receive a monthly phone call or email from the SARE Coordinator throughout the summer and fall season to support their efforts and help with any issues. They will also receive contact information to ask for support as needed. (May-November 2018).
Due to the high number of participants, coordinators did not call each trainee every month. We were in touch with most trainees via email throughout the summer as they began to diagnose samples and as questions arose. For those that had not been participating, coordinators reached out to them directly to learn of their challenges to see how we could assist their efforts.
10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians will participate in one of two open hive trainings to do a full hive assessment, to be held in two separate locations around the state. Dates and locations of these training will be shared during the initial February workshop. (May-September 2018).
After the initial training, evaluation and feedback from participants this milestone was adjusted to better fit the participants needs. Prior to launching the program publicly we felt the participants needed additional training on using microscopes. Additionally, the hemocytometers (counting chamber slides) that were purchased were not of quality to make counting nosema spores very easy, especially for those with less than perfect eyesight. The second training focused on using the microscopes. Each participant was instructed to use one of three different hemocytometers slides with a pre-made sample sample confirmed for nosema. We were able to secure funds from the NH Beekeepers Association, research fund, to purchase higher quality hemocytometers for the participants. Two training’s were held, where participants could attend either, or both, if desired. These were on May 11 and May 26.
The 10 beekeeping educators who participated in the 2018 diagnostic training will attend a 1-day follow up training on diagnostics where they will review what has and has not been working well in their regions, receive additional assistance for disease and pest management based on new science and new and emerging pest issues. (November 2018).
We organized an information sharing meeting with some of our most active volunteers. The goal of this meeting was to assess strengths and areas for improvement of the Nosema Network Program. Additionally we identified a list of ongoing educational needs that this program and UNH Extension can provide or assist with and we transition from a network focused on Nosema, to the “NH Healthy Hives” program (see more information below).
The 10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians continue to access the online platform as a sharing station to post disease and pest photos to the group as they have questions throughout the season. This will facilitate a community of learning and sharing of information. (October 2018 – Sept 2019).
Trained diagnosticians continue to access the website we created, and continue to refer clients (beekeepers, farmers) to the site to access educational resources. In the February/March of 2019 the NH Beekeepers used the website to roll out the “NH Healthy Hives” project, an expansion of the Nosema network, created by SARE. Volunteers used the NH Honey Bee Diagnsotic Network website to create and compile educational resources and outreach efforts. Thru the use of the website they were able to quickly and easily get this project launched and do so in a professional manner. The first robust and statewide honey bee health focused initiative in the state. They hope to continue to build off this site and add to it each year. The goal of the “NH Healthy hives program” is to have a different theme each year, with year one being Nosema, year two focused on varroa mite monitoring, and year three focused on nutrition education with native flowers. Additional pages have now been placed on the site, and shared during club meetings, in newsletters, and via social media.
The 10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians will participate in a final training and diagnostics gathering. Educational content will be based on participants needs at the time of the training. Dates and locations of these training will be shared during the initial February workshop. (May-September 2019).
Diagnostic network volunteers were invited to a second training event. After gaining input from participants and steering committee members, an agenda was set. We also kicked off the day with a round robin having all participants share their goals for the day, including questions that had arisen since the foundation of the network. This period of open discussion was one of the most valuable parts of the day. We learned that some of the testing methods had been watered down or strayed from the original intent, especially the sampling location inside the hive. As a result we were able to provide clear and concise recommendations to the volunteers on where to sample the bees, and what age the bees should be, for most consistent and reliable nosema sampling. Group discussion also showed that while getting individual beekeepers to submit samples for nosema testing is challenging, the awareness and education level related to understanding nosema has soared throughout the state. Where before it was not considered and issue, now beekeepers understand the threat it poses. They also know where to go for answers if they suspect they have nosema infection.
Honey Bee Health Specialist, Tony Jadczak lead participants in a review of the data set we had created over the past year. Mr. Jadczak also presented on Management options in the absence of Fumagilin (the primary treatment option for nosmea infection). . It was repeated that nutrition is a major component to a nosema outbreak and adequate nutrition is essential for strong, healthy hives. Tony helped review alternative methods for treating nosema which ranged from more holistic alternatives like bio-besticides and essential oils. It was concluded that breeding and selecting queens for nosema resistance is the solution to maintain healthy and active honey bees. Additionally there is a strong need for well designed experiments, with controls and consistent protocols, over a multi-year research program to truly understand the intersecting issues at hand.
The Department of Agriculture markets and Food State Bee Inspector also reported to the group his observations from the 2019 season in the field. Following a break, Mr. Jadczak lead us in a hands on show and share of honey bee maladies, with preserved frame and bee samples scattered around the room. Participants were asked to stop at each station and identify the honey bee malady, such as chalk brood, foulbrood, parasitic mite syndrome, shrew damage, and others. The goal of this exercise was to expose these beekeepers to common and uncommon problems so that they are better able to train their eye to catch these challenges in the field and when they are teaching or inspecting for others. We spent extra time learning about American foulbrood, the most destructive honey bee disease, and the keys to positive identification. This part of the workshop was recorded and posted to the website for participants to review at a later time. Those that were unable to attend were also able to view the 15 minute video.
The 10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians will attend a 1-day follow up training on diagnostics where they will review what has and has not been working well in their regions, and receive additional assistance for disease and pest management based on new science and new and emerging pest issues. (November 2019).
See above for a recap of the training event. As the program shifted to better accommodate learning outcomes, this milestone was accomplished at an earlier date.
10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians respond to evaluation questions about their confidence level in diagnosing honeybee pest and diseases; the project team will use this information to determine what additional training and resources are necessary. The survey will ask for a report of their activities providing diagnostic services and education to beekeepers. (September 2019).
Activities reported by diagnostic volunteers include:
Speaking at the Eastern Apiculture Society 2019 meeting on the network.
Speaking to bee school students and club members on nosema education.
Showing individual beekeepers how to take samples and how to dissect honey bees for analysis.
Pointed people to the NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network website and its associated resources.
Processing of samples and conducting spore counts.
Consulting and conversations on honey bee health.
10 beekeeping educators/diagnosticians respond to evaluation survey and reporting their activities providing diagnostic services and education to beekeepers. (September 2019).
We utlizied the “skills and knowledge” list that was initially developed for the first training. We again presented the participants the list they had filled out after the first training, asking them to fill it out again after a year had passed. It was clear that participants improved their skills, knowledge and confidence in offering diagnostic services and education to the communities. It is also clear, though, that there are still some gaps in this knowledge transfer including the need to refine and keep sampling methods consistent for detecting Nosema in honey bee hives.
The volunteer beekeepers who attended this meeting and offer diagnostic services statewide agree that Nosema education has raised greater awareness on this problem pest. The issue at hand, though, seems to be that plenty of new beekeepers do not want to get their hives tested and may not think it important because Nosema is a disease that is largely invisible until colony collapse. There is plenty of misinformation on Nosema as well that may lead to confusion throughout the literature. The treatment option for treating Nosema (fumagilin b) is no longer on the market, further troubling beekeepers. Beekeepers are unsure of how to help their hives even if they know they have Nosema. Overall, engagement with regular beekeepers to utilize the diagnostic services has proven to be a bit challenging.
There is also a challenge between taking the information we gather and what we are to achieve in collecting such data. This encompasses the goals of the group and how we may redirect our organization and efforts to find patterns and hot spots of varroa mites and nosema.
Hearing from an expert in the field, Tony mentioned what makes detecting and treating nosema difficult is in the complexity of cycles that pests and diseases affect. This correlates to seasonal patterns in terms of climate, nutrient and pollen availability. It was repeated that nutrition is a major component to nosema out break and adequate nutrition is essential for strong, healthy hives. Tony helped review alternative methods for treating nosema which ranged from more holistic alternatives like bio-besticides and essential oils. It was concluded that breeding and selecting queens for nosema resistance is the solution to maintain healthy and active honey bees. Additionally there is a strong need for well designed experiments, with controls and consistent protocols, over a long term 2 year research program to truly understand the intersecting issues at hand.
The robust discussion and input from participants has been used to inform future work (such as the NH In Bloom Project, and moisture management study). Participant feedback has also made clear that NH SARE can help aid in statewide communication efforts related to honey bee IPM and disease management to help engage more beekeepers.
The NH SARE Coordinator will present a final report at the NH Beekeeping annual spring meeting. We will highlight the three main areas and discuss how others can get involved in using the diagnostic network, who is raising queens in NH and how their bee schools could benefit from using the NH adapted bee school curriculum. Participants of the program will be in attendance to share with others how the program has benefited them. (March 2020).
The Spring NHBA meeting was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Global Health Pandemic. A shortened event was delivered via zoom, which did not allow for updates other than the educational program. News and updates from the NH SARE program are shared regularly at NHBA board meetings, thru the NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network Blog and website, and thru educational programs to local bee clubs.
MILESTONES 17 - 26 DESCRIBE ACTIVITIES OF THE BEEKEEPERS EDUCATION NETWORK
6 members of the Action and Advisory Team will do a preliminary examination of existing beekeeping curriculum to be used as a statewide beekeeping education curriculum. This curriculum will be based on essential beekeeping topics and will rely heavily on existing “gold star” curriculum from neighboring states and Canada. (May 2018).
The NH SARE Program assistant has collected over ten bee school curriculum’s from around the United States. These will be looked at and evaluated in the summer of 2018.
Following initial evaluation of existing curricula, that 6 members of the Action and Advisory Team will:
a) Choose a curriculum to adopt for use in NH. This may be directly from one state, or may lend the best pieces from a number of programs for a “gold star” curriculum guide. The team will develop a set of core touchstones (minimum requirements to keeping bees in New Hampshire) to be taught in all classes, ie: how to overwinter, mite treatment options, recommended equipment, etc.
b) Develop a basic “Skills and Knowledge List” for beekeeping in New Hampshire, using similar skills lists from UMaine Extension as a guideline. This skills list will be provided to students enrolled in introductory bee schools. The skills list will be used as a framework for what students should have learned at the end of attending a complete bee school.
The Skills and Knowledge list for beginning beekeeping has been completed by the NH SARE Coordinator, with help from the design team. The list was piloted during winter 2018 bee school, and was shared with all bee school train the trainer participants.
The design team shifted away from providing a gold star curriculum. Instead we chose to focus our training on effective adult education methodology, and had them create their own curricula based on their regional/season needs related to beekeeping. During the train the trainer for bee school participants, we had students critically evaluate different curriculum outlines, which we provided. This allowed them to choose for themselves what they liked and didn’t like about different curricula.
The NH SARE State Coordinator and the UNH Education Specialist will populate the 4 online modules using Canvas technology. Module/Week 1: andragogy revisited and enhanced. Module/Week 2: delivering the bee-keeping curriculum. Module/Week 3: activities for enhanced learning. Module/Week 4: putting it all together and getting started. Each module will include resources for reading, reviewing and watching, and activities for processing learning. Students will develop ways which effective learning techniques could be implemented into each week’s curriculum and share with the online group (May-Sept 2018).
Using the best techniques for effective adult education, an online canvas-based class was created for our trainees. We developed 4 modules and a welcome video. Participants logged onto the site at their leisure each week, with the expectation they would complete the modules before our in person session at the end. Through the online modules, students created a curriculum outline for a class they teach, developed interactive activities for their students to do, and developed tools for their students to use after their class was over. The modules were as follows.
Lesson 1: Intro and Brain Basics
Lesson 2: Understanding Adult Learners & Learning by Doing.
Lesson 3: Teaching with your strengths & Expert Blind Spot.
Lesson 4: Turning Learning into doing & Learning Transfer.
Lesson 5: In person, Putting It All Together.
40 Beekeeping educators (NH State Association, regional club leaders, Extension staff) will receive an invitation to participate in the beekeepers education network. The invitation will be sent by UNH Cooperative Extension in conjunction with the NH Beekeepers State Association. (October 2018).
The deadline to enroll in the Beekeepers Education Network was October 20th. After promotion at the statewide beekeepers fall meeting, we had additional participants sign up. We did not have any interest on behalf of Extension Educators, as none of them in New Hampshire are involved in teaching bee schools.
Curriculum, beekeepers skills lists and teaching touchstones will be provided to the NH Beekeepers Association at their November meeting for board approval. (November 2018).
The NH SARE Coordinator provided a grant update and progress report to the NH Beekeepers Board of directors at their September 2018 meeting. The board provided input on how to proceed and ideas on how to get more beekeepers to submit samples to the Nosema disease network. The Board also agreed helped to promote the beginning of the Train-the-trainer for NH Bee School Instructors.
24 beekeeping educators will participate in the inaugural Beekeepers Education Network 1-day workshop. This will include outlining program expectations and requirements, orientation to online learning, instruction to enhancing adult motivation to learn, illustration of effective education activities and essential elements of the bee-keeping curriculum. Participants will learn why these activities and delivery methods are effective educational methods. The focus of the training will be on how to teach effectively. Curriculum provided will be an additional aid as they improve their teaching skills (November 2018).
An in-person training was held on December 1, following participation in the online canvas-based course. Participants brought their homework and new ideas to utilize in the bee schools they each teach. We facilitated conversations around effective adult education, and shared ideas for learning and engagement through bee schools. Our objectives for the in person training were to discuss the following concepts: Lesson design and structure, learning by doing, expert blind spot, learning transfer. Additionally we played 1-2 activities brought in by the students and critiqued 1-2 resources.
Number of service providers who participated is reflective of who engaged in the online learning activities. We had five additional individuals sign up, but who did not participate or engage in the online learning or in person meeting. While we found great enthusiasm for the program, not everyone followed thru in the learning activities. While the total number was smaller than what we anticipated, we felt these individuals were able to make great strides in their teaching abilities.
24 beekeeping educators will participate in a 4-week, online training using Canvas technology to learn how to implement effective adult education delivery methods into their teaching, building off the 1-day initial training. The online course will feature readings, videos, a chatroom to process assignments, and share information. During the online training, we will make available the statewide curriculum developed for this program. Participants will use their newly gained skills in effective adult education to develop specific activities which utilize effective educational methods for each week or topic of bee school education. (January 2019).
A four week online course was created using Canvas. We tracked students progress online each week and were in touch with any students who were not engaging weekly.
Oct. 26 – Session 1: Intro & Neuromyths
- Course introduction and overview
- Intro to My Courses and site navigation
- Brain basics
- Understanding Neuromyths of Learning
Nov. 2 – Session 2: Understanding Adult Learners & Learning by Doing
Nov. 9 – Session 3: Teach w/ Your Strengths & Expert Blindspot
Nov. 16 – Session 4: Turning Learning into Doing & Learning Transfer
24 beekeeping educators complete a post-session evaluation to measure their learning outcomes and assess what support they may need as they implement new practices and skills they gained. (February 2019).
A post session evaluation was provided to those who participated in the in-person event on December 1. For those who were not able to attend, the evaluation was completed digitally.
24 beekeeping educators conducting various bee schools and/or bee school planning sessions receive coaching and guidance visits, as needed, from the Action team as they re-develop their courses and educational activities within their respective clubs. (January-April 2019).
This milestone was put forth in order to support educators of the bee schools. We did not have many requests from teachers to attend their classes or to provide input on the structure of their class. However many individuals expressed how they used the tools in their bee school organizational meetings, and shared resources with their fellow teachers. This milestone was not an effective tool to create change, and instead we focused on providing participants with the tools they asked for such as resources and documents to aid them in their teaching efforts.
The 24 NH beekeeping educators respond to a survey to evaluate new teaching methods at NH Bee schools. (January 2020) The survey will be shared with students who enrolled in a bee school where the teacher participated in the NH Beekeepers education network. (March 2020).
A digital (qualtrics) survey was sent to trainees who completed the online course and the in person training. The trainees were asked to evaluate the long term impact the program had on their teaching methods and the bee school they participate in. The survey asked:
What effective adult education methods did you incorporate into your teaching? (ie: content review, use of an outline, hands on activity, teach to your strengths, etc.)
Have you modified your curriculum based on what you learned?
As a bee school instructor, are you more or less confident in your teaching methods?
Are you able to identify and teach to your strengths?
We had a 54% return rate, with seven survey responses. It was clear the program had an impact and influenced how individuals teach at their bee school. How they chose to change their programming varied by individual. One had yet to teach a class despite interest to do so, and one no longer teaches. Trainees were successful at: incorporating hands on activities (6 of 7 respondents), use of an outline to teach and organize the lesson (4 of 7) and adding a content review of material from the previous session. There was also more collaboration within the bee schools, where instructors would gather to review information together before teaching.
Modifications the instructors made were: removing some content to allow for more review time, utilizing breaks and allowing time for questions, adding hands on activities, making the class more interactive.
When asked if they were more confident as a teacher, they felt they were better off but still sometimes felt nervous. Overall confidence level rose, but more could be done. One trainee felt that when instructors can “teach to their strengths” the learning event is strongest.
None of the trainees were able to provide evaluation data from the courses they taught. This is an indication that community based education programs may lack the skill or technology to conduct a post-program evaluation. An additional challenge identified is the difficulty or confusion in doing a post-bee school evaluation when multiple educators are involved in teaching. Feedback such as “I’m invited back each year to teach” and “students continue to come to beekeeping association meetings” left instructors feeling like they were successful educators.
Secondary evaluation shared with students who enrolled in a bee school where the teacher participated in the NH Beekeepers education network was not completed. Most bee schools are taught by a diverse group, not all of who participated in our training. We focused instead on evaluating our participants where the most information could be gleaned.
MILESTONES 27-37 DESCRIBE ACTIVITIES OF THE QUEEN BREEDERS NETWORK
20 NH beekeepers respond to survey from members of the Action Advisory teams asking about desired traits they would like to see in NH bred queens. (June – September 2019).
As our New Hampshire queen cohort has begun to learn more about queen production and possible genetic manipulation thru training at Cornell University, Dyce Lab for honey bee studies, we have moved away from this milestone of focusing on specific traits. Due to the complex nature of raising queens, our initial focus is on successful production of queen cells before moving into breeding and genetic manipulations. Participants must first become successful and develop basic skills in queen rearing before moving into isolating and selection of specific traits. Instead NH Queen Producers will identify genetic lines they wish to introduce to their operations such as the Russian strain, the Saskatraz, VSH and others. NH queen producers have already worked to secure some of these lines into their operation and will continue to select the strongest queens for their breeding lines. It will be nearly impossible for NH queen producers to maintain genetically isolated strains of bees because of the widespread popularity of beekeeping and natural mating behavior of honey bees.
Members of Action and Advisory teams identify current NH queen producers to assess their practices and learn about their needs, and study other state queen breeding programs including those in R.I., VT., and Ontario. The data gathered will be used to by the Advisory and Action Teams to develop a NH Queen Breeding short-course. (June – September, 2019).
The SARE program assistant has developed a list of local and regional queen producers to network with and visit with over the summer of 2019. We plan to link them with our participants as mentors in queen breeding.
As of Fall 2020, the NH queen producers network continues to connect with regional and national queen rearing and queen breeding experts both on their own and thru our SARE network. We are further aided by community based beekeeping clubs who want to support the queen network in New Hampshire and who offer to host (fund) national queen experts to speak directly to our beekeepers.
A. 5 experienced beekeepers with interest in bee production will be recruited to enroll in the NH Queen Producers Network as trainees. This invitation will be sent out via the NH beekeepers association newsletter, and shared with local clubs around the state. (March 2019).
B. 5 experienced queen producers will be recruited to serve as mentors to new queen producers trainees. Mentors will be required to have a minimum of five years (seasons) experience in queen rearing before enrolling in the queen producers’ network. (March 2019).
C. The 5 new queen producers and 5 experienced queen producers receive a “skills and knowledge list” for queen production in NH that is developed by a recruited queen breeding specialist and NH SARE state coordinator and modeled after similar lists developed at UMaine Extension. (April 2019).
Six beekeepers have been selected after a rigorous review process to begin the NH Queen Producers Network. Twenty nine individuals applied to the program. We conducted 30-minute interviews with 15 of the candidates to learn more about their level of experience and interest and availability to engage in commercial queen bee production. Each candidate was rated, and we selected six for participation. In particular we were looking for beekeepers with minimum of 5 years experience, a high level of understanding of honey bee biology as well as a strong knowledge of honey bee pests and diseases. This milestone has evolved, where instead of bringing in a teacher to New Hampshire, we traveled to Cornell University and attend the Dyce Lab for honey bee studies, Queen Production 2-day short course.
The skills and knowledge list has been developed and was used at the start at the queen training program (June).
The 5 trainees and 5 mentors will attend a 2-day classroom based short-course training on successful queen rearing. Beekeepers will increase their knowledge of desired traits in queens among NH beekeepers, learn queen biology, choosing breeder stock, drones and mating, grafting, commercial queen rearing and record keeping. Trainees will gain skills in breeding queens with NH desired traits. Participants will receive a manual on successful queen rearing and a queen rearing calendar generator. The five experienced, mentor bee breeders will also attend the training to develop a network of sharing and participation, and identify the trainee they will become a mentor to. (May 2019).
Training event took place June 8-9, 2019, lead by the Cornell Dyce Lab for Honey Bee studies. In addition to faculty and extension instructors, two commercial beekeepers lead the hands on portions of the course including hands on manipulations and grafting of queen cells. Each participant was able to bring two virgin queens back home with them. The NH team carpooled to Ithaca New York, which provided time for participants to get to know each other, build comradery and community within the new queen rearers network. The SARE coordinator provided a list of “car questions” to facilitate dialog on the trip related to beekeeping practices and sustainable agriculture, which was very well received by the participants. Team building exercises, while trivial, have resulted in a strong network of participants willing to share knowledge, skills, equipment, genetic lines as well as their time in each other’s operations. There is a strong willingness to help each other and to learn from one another, which will aid in making the network successful long into the future.
Promotional Piece highlighting the NH Queen Producers Network: https://extension.unh.edu/blog/acclimating-queen-bees-new-hampshires-north-country
5 mentors and 5 trainees will attend a one-day field training on hive manipulations and grafting, allowing for hands-on experience and training. At the conclusion of the training, trainees will use the “skills and knowledge list” with their mentor to identify specifically what knowledge gaps remain. An hour will be spent on mentor-trainee discussion (coaching), where the trainee develops an action plan for queen production implementation and management in their operation. The mentor will work with the trainee to fulfill knowledge gaps as the trainee begins his/her breeding program. (June 2019).
Participants dictated the goals for this 2nd training event. The NH queen producers group spent the morning in a queen rearing apiary learning how one individual in New Hampshire raises and manipulates hives for queen production. We were also able to distribute queen rearing equipment to each participant, as supported by the grant. Additionally the SARE Coordinator was able to shoot video for promotional efforts of the queen network which was shared at the NH State Beekeepers meeting later in the fall. Following the hive side visit, participants were lead in a facilitated discussion focused on identifying their learning needs and remaining questions related to raising queens in New Hampshire.
10am – welcome & goal for the day
10:15 tour of Kevin Sargent’s Apiary and queen rearing equipment
11:45 distribution of queen equipment to participants
12:00 Lunch & review of today’s goals
12:30 facilitated discussion on queen rearing technique
3:00 close and feedback on future trainings
The 5 trainees will conduct an after-action evaluation to provide feedback to the training experience, their learning and increased knowledge as a result of the training. (July 2019).
Participant feedback has shown that trainees are still lacking in some skill areas. They recognize some of these skills will come with practice of raising queens within their own apiaries, but recognize they could use some review of material that was covered during the initial course. Participants have requested additional trainings in the form of 3, 1-hour webinars to be conducted over the winter months in preparation for the 2020 queen production season. NH state coordinators have begun work to meet this request. A winter webinar series was set up and delivered over three weeks in February 2020.
Webinar #1 Wednesday Feb 12– Dorinda Priebe, EAS Master Beekeeper– review of what we know
Webinar #2 Wednesday Feb 26 Gary Reuter, Apiculture Technician, Department of Entomology, University of Minnesota
Webinar #3 Wednesday March 4th – Farmer to Farmer – Troll Hall (NH commercial queen producer) & Brian Evans (NY state commercial queen producer)
The 5 mentors will check in with their trainee via phone or on-site visit at least once during the season. (September 2019).
Discussion and feedback from trainees and the NH SARE Coordinator is regular and ongoing. Participants also utilize a private facebook “group” the NH Queen Rearing Group to post photos, successes in grafting, and pose questions to the group. This has been a positive way to stay in touch and continue to deepen the friendships, camaraderie and network of support that has developed.
Successful participants in the queen-breeding program who are ready and able to distribute NH raised queens will have their information shared via the NH Beekeepers State Association website by the SARE Coordinator. A news article will also be shared thru the network of agricultural non-profits and the NH Beekeepers State Association newsletter. (October 2019).
A listing of NH Queen Producers has been published and widely distributed across the state. A blog post was also authored by the NH SARE Coordinator and shared via the NH Beekeepers Newsletter, the NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network website, and the UNH Extension website.
5 trainees will collect data and information on their released queens. NH SARE State Coordinator will develop a standard form for each bee sold to collect this data, including winter survival rate, mite load, pest and disease resistance, queen aggressiveness, brood pattern and swarming tendency. (October 2019-Sept 2020).
As the queen network evolves, we understand selecting for individual traits is difficult without isolation. Furthermore, each participant has their own unique climate, challenges and goals within their operation. We did not feel prioritizing a statewide rating system was the best use of our time at this beginning stage. As we learn more from other experts, this may be something we incorporate in the future. We see opportunity in working with the NH Beekeepers citizen science program, to add a field to their annual “winter hive survival survey” to monitor NH grown and sold queens and their overwintering ability and survival rates.
5 trainees in the queen breeders network will continue to work with their mentor to develop queens and select desirable traits. (May-September 2020).
The queen rearers continue to support eachother as a network, which now includes a NH queen rearer with 10+ years experience raising queens for commercial sale in New Hampshire. Participants continue to deepen their skill thru practice and professional development.
5 commercial beekeepers/new bee breeders participants of the NH Queen Breeders network will respond to evaluation questions about how they incorporated new skills into their programs, how successful they were at rearing queens or nucleus colonies, and how many queens or nucleus colonies they sold during the spring and summer season. (August 2020).
The NH SARE Coordinator queried the queen producers on their professional development goals. The SARE coordinator identified a learning opportunity outside of technical queen production, this time focusing on running their bee business as they have scaled up their operation. The SARE Coordinator invited the UNH Agriculture Business management team to speak about running a bee business in an informal discussion with the queen producers. The focus of a September 16th zoom session was on business structure decision making, cost of production of bee products, insurance and liability, pricing, and co-buying opportunities. This was followed by reviewing the bee year, and discussing educational needs for the year ahead.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
Educational activities and events conducted by the project team:
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Curricula, factsheets or educational tools||2||2||4|
|Published press articles, newsletters||3||3||2||8|
|Study circle / focus groups||1||2||1||4|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||1||2||6||9|
|Workshop / field days||3||3||2||8|
|A permanent website for trainees and the public with information resources and private trainee chat room/communication center||1||0||0||1|
Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total Individuals|
|Service providers (other or unspecified)||31||32||32||32|
|Farmers / ranchers||0||7||7||7|
Participants were able to learn about nosema, its consequential effects if not managed for, and how to manage for the disease to prevent colony loss. Many participants were using old science to teach new beekeepers about disease and have since updated their educational material. Participants were aware of the pathogen nosema, but were using science related to Nosema apis, and not Nosema cerena the pathogen more commonly found in our state. Nosema cerena acts differently within the gut of the bee, and requires different management approach. Participants are now knowledgeable in the lifecycle of Nosema cerena and are able to implement integrated pest management to control for it.
Participant change in knowledge was evaluated by using a pre & post event evaluation. We developed a self assessment tool: "skills and knowledge list of nosema detection and management". Participants rated their level of knowledge before the training, after the training and their target level. The program coordinator took the results of this evaluation to see where participants lacked skills following the first training event. We identified the knowledge gaps using the skills and knowledge list and developed our second training event around this.
Participant feedback was conducted via email following the Nosema testing period (end of October 2018). At this time participants had received the trainings, had been communicating their knowledge at bee schools and bee club meeting, and had conducted Nosema tests for beekeepers. Participants were asked to share program input and feedback as well as Nosema testing data. Key points shared by participants were difficulty in getting the public engaged in the testing service, and lack of beekeeper knowledge on the new science of Nosema. Additionally, many shared examples of beekeeper tests coming back low for Nosema where they thought it would be high. In these cases the beekeeper was planning on doing a chemical control, which was no longer necessary. In many cases the testing service opened a door of knowledge and a level of management that was not there before, allowing the beekeeper to enhance their management style.
Change in Knowledge by farmers was also verified at the NH Beekeepers Annual Fall meeting, where there was a presentation on the NH Honeybee Diagnostic Network. A program evaluation was completed by 159 individuals at the end of the meeting. The farmer attendees were asked to rate their pre–meeting knowledge and their post-meeting knowledge on the topics presented. Additional questions, requiring short answers were asked. The main changes people intend to make as a result of this training are to: participate in the 2019 hive loss survey, have their bees tested for Nosema, improve monitoring of mites and disease, supplement feed with pollen, and will monitor frames more regularly. Following the presentation on the NH Honeybee Diagnostic Network, 41% of participants at the meeting stated they intended to make changes as a result of what they learned.
Performance Target Outcomes
Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Curricula, factsheets and other educational tools||3||1||4|
|Published press, articles, newsletters||3||3||2||8|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||7||3||10|
|Workshops and field days||3||1||0||4|
To date, we have tested 133 hives for Nosema, plus many more which participants did not enter into our reporting database (estimated 40 samples). We have provided management input for those with a high level of infection. Of the 133 tested and reported, 21 hives tested high and 9 tested medium level of infection for Nosema. We know these hives would likely die without treatment. The hives with no or low-level infection, we saved these beekeepers the cost and time of treating their hives unnecessarily. Many of the beekeepers who submitted samples did so because they thought their hives were infected by Nosema and were using an antibiotic treatment, though it was not needed.
Through our statewide network of trained volunteer diagnosticians, we have been able to elevate beekeepers’ knowledge of disease identification and management, especially Nosema, a silent killer of bees. Prior to this work, knowledge of Nosema and its potential impact was very low. To date, 924 individuals have been educated on this disease through workshops, presentations, or one-on-one consultation with one of our trained volunteers. We have reached an additional 595 through newsletters and educational promotional material. This number may be higher through our wide reach via social media platforms. Through this education, we have been able to show beekeepers how to manage against Nosema infection, and have educated the public on best management practices, like sanitation and proper inspection, to keep hives healthy. We believe this work will result in higher winter survival of honeybees. This will result in greater profitability for beekeepers in New Hampshire.
My work with the honeybee community was of such great interest, that it resulted in being invited a speaker on the NH Public Radio show “The Exchange” for a full hour-long segment in 2018. Through this experience, I was able to elevate this work, as well as the role of UNH Extension in protection of our natural resources.
The diagnostic network continues to evolve with, focusing on an annual theme to honey bee IPM. We have the greatest participation when we engage beekeepers in citizen science. Utilizing the model we built with the Noseama program, we have added a Deadout CSI tool to aid beekeepers in analyzing why a hive may have died, launched a statewide mite testing program and provided testing equipment to encourage mite testing, and have launched a moisture management study to better understand how winter moisture management may influence nosema and winter survival.
The Queen Network was successful in training 6 individuals as commercial queen producers. In addition to each of them indiviually selling NH raised queens in 2019 and 2020, the have also provided education on queen rearing to their local clubs. There is high demand to offer this program again in the future.
Additional Project Outcomes
|Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
The following are written comments from our diagnostic network volunteers:
“While we really don’t know what impact Nosema has on hive survival yet, we can begin to establish data over time. It is more complex than it looks, the biggest impact this project has had is to begin to bring the thought leaders together and begin to explore our understandings, while learning to collaborate.”
“I am unsure how to get people to get testing. I think its important that people realize that it’s important to test, especially if a hive is not thriving. I am the one who had a massive infestation that took 2 years to recover from. This is the first year I have not had one positive test. I did have a single hive survive but their load was so high I destroyed it. It was sad to do, but the rest of my hives are Nosema C free. Next year I hope to have more testing”
“With the absence of Fumagillan-B in the marketplace and many beekeepers no longer able to treat prophylactically, I think it will be very interesting to get data on Nosema levels from spring colonies and readouts. I will continue to encourage the beekeepers I work with to provide samples in the spring…. Thank you for providing me the opportunity to participate in this program and all the information you have provided.”
The SARE Coordinator attended two 1-day workshops to promote SARE programs. The NOFA-NH winter conference with 150+ attendees, and the NH Granite State Graizers conference with 50 attendees. Additionally the SARE farmer grants were promoted to the NH Honey Bee Diagnostic Network participants (30 people). Prior to the SARE Farmer grant deadline in 2017, the grant information was shared via the NH Vegetable and Fruit growers newsletter.
A SARE Farmer Grant presentation was given at the North Country Fruit and Vegetable Conference on October 30th. Following the farmer presentation the NH SARE Coordinator spoke about how to apply to a farmer grant and took questions on the program.
The SARE programs were also featured at the NH Agriculture Professionals Day in the spring of 2018.
SARE Grant presentation was given at the UNH Agriculture and Food Systems Departmental Seminar on February 15th, 2019. The seminar is attended by graduate students and campus-based faculty. 17 students, 10 university faculty.
SARE grants are brought up at each of the NH Agriculture Agents Association Professional meetings. Additionally information pamphlets are provided to staff for either their own grants to to give to farmers in their networks. 13 members/extension agents.
SARE tabled at the UNH Food & Agriculture Day, for students faculty, staff and the public on November 7, 2019.
SARE Grant programs were promoted at the NH Beekeepers Statewide meeting October 2019, and is continually shared at the NH Beekeepers executive committee meetings.
Notice about the 2019 SARE Farmer Grant deadline was promoted in the UNH Agriculture Extension Newsletter on October 14, 2019 (2,800 recipients), and a blurb was submitted to the Weekly Market Bulletin, a weekly publication from the State Department of Agriculture Markets and Food.
Notice about the 2020 SARE Farmer Grant deadline was promoted in the UNH Agriculture Extension Newsletter October thru November when the deadline passed (3,000 recipients), and a blurb was submitted to the Weekly Market Bulletin, a weekly publication from the State Department of Agriculture Markets and Food. The SARE Farmer Grant webinar offered thru SARE was promoted via the UNH Newsletter and our social media platforms.
Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|