PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
The sustainable Agriculture issues that I explored were beneficial insects and value-added and direct marketing. I learned about how bees benefit the environment by adding pollinators. Also through making lip balm I explored value-added marketing and I direct marketed both the lip balm I produced and the honey.
I had attended the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society’s Healthy Farms Conference where I went to a Beginning Beekeeping session and the Slow Food Nebraska Eggstravaganza the year before receiving this grant. I started learning about beekeeping the year prior to this project as well.
• Gather more information about beekeeping.
• Create a product.
• Create a label.
• Keep a blog about my experiences.
Plan of Action – I sat down and made a plan of how I thought and hoped the year would go.
Getting more equipment – First, I ordered the equipment I foresaw needing from Drapers, a bee supply company. Then, I ordered things as I needed them. I ordered my bees from Nebraska Bee. Also, I received a scholarship for beginning equipment and information.
Getting more information – I did a few internet searches on bee advice, honey harvest and storage and lip balm production. I borrowed the book “The Hive and the Honey Bee” from my Ag teacher. I went to the NSAS Healthy Farms Conference and talked to many experienced beekeepers. Also, from a scholarship I received, I went to go to four very informative workshops on beekeeping. I learned about the basics of keeping bees, disease care, honey harvesting, equipment, winter care and feeding.
Taking care of bees – Taking care of bees isn’t a huge job but must get done at the right times. I tried to get into the hives once every two weeks. So far, I haven’t needed to use any disease treatments of my bees. Two of my hives, one old and one new, chose to swarm this summer. This is when they get so large that the hive decides to spilt and part of the bees leave and look for another home. I was able to catch one swarm. The hives that swarmed were weakened, so I didn’t get as much honey. Next year I have more hive bodies on hand, but this year I wasn’t ready. I tried to do everything else in a timely manner, going off of how I had heard a normal bee year should go.
Production and Sales – First, I found a lip balm recipe and gathered all the ingredients. I did a test batch and had a group of ten people try it out and fill out a survey after two weeks. Then I produced more products. The biggest challenge was creating labels, which I had to get done before I could sell them. I sold mostly by word of mouth and also my little brother sold a lot to his teachers and class.
I mostly tried to make a plan and carry it out, adapting to changes that came along. I used this approach probably because I have used this type of planning process in FCCLA, a student organization. The process outline is to Identify concerns, Set a goal, Form a plan, Act and Follow up. This process wasn’t thought about but it just happened. I did it this way because I was comfortable with it and it was the best choice for the time and resources I had available.
• Steve Melvin – Frontier county extension educator and my dad. He helped with checking hives, filling in for me when I was gone or sick, taking me everywhere and everything else I needed help with.
• William Powers – NSAS executive director. Helped me get interested in sustainable Ag, find and write grants, and gave advice.
• Tonya Mortenson – Ag Teacher. Helped get information and staying organized with FFA records.
• Marion Elis – Speaker at workshops. Gave lots of information.
• Keith Neilson – Main organizer of Nebraska Bee Keepers Youth Scholarship. Gave lots of information and advice.
• Crystal Powers – sister. Helped create label and start a blog.
• Brian Sterch – Extension educator for Red Willow County. Hosted ESI (EntrepreneurShip Investigation) Camp.
• 3 new hives
• Product labels
• Approximately 100 items made
o Lip Balm
o Udder salve
• More knowledge about bees
• $92.50 in sales
The results are for the most part what I expected to see happen. If I were to do this project again I think I would have tried to come up with a more detailed plan and a business plan. Also I would have made more time for things to get done in.
I think that I have learned about all three aspects of sustainable agriculture.
Bees are environmentally friendly because they bring needed pollinators to an area. Many gardeners in Curtis told me in past years they had not seen very many pollinators, but they had seen many bees this year.
The bees were not very profitable this year. This has two causes, it was the first year and the new hives were not at full capacity and I was very short on time and it seemed when I really needed to do things with them I was gone or sick. Next year I will take better care of them, so hopefully I will see more production from them.
Bees are socially responsible because they don’t harm any of the neighbors, but instead help them out by pollinating their flowers and gardens. Also, I made sure I warned my neighbors I was getting bees in case anyone had allergies.
Bees have helped me become more organized and also I get to enjoy the products of their toil. They have not only benefited me but also my parents and my community. They are needed pollinators of area gardens and flowers and also by selling honey and lip balm everyone can enjoy the products produced by bees.
I shared the information learned through this project mostly though presentations, a blog and by answering peoples questions. I was trying to reach whoever wanted to learn about bees.
In my first presentation I was trying to reach kids and the NSAS Healthy Farms Conference. This happened on February 5 and 6, 2010. Approximately 12 children attended. What I did was create a PowerPoint that explained what I was doing and why with my project. I included lots of pictures and then they helped me make lip balm. The second presentation I gave was on September 15, 2010 to seven members of the Curtis Gardening Club. In this presentation I talked about how bees are beneficial, how to promote bees and also how I got started.
My second means of outreach was a blog. This was supposed to be about my experiences as a new beekeeper. I started off well and even linked it to my facebook profile. But time was a limiting factor, especially time on the computer. Throughout the summer my time was limited so very little blogging was completed.
There was lots of interest from the community so I was asked many questions when I was around town. I answered them with the knowledge and experience I had gained. Currently I have no outreach plans, but I will present again if asked to.
I think that in your forms it would have been helpful if you could have been more clear in what you want and how you want it formatted. Also, it would have been nice to have known at the beginning of the project what you were going to want to see in the end so that I could have made sure to keep records on specific things.