Professional Development Program in Apiculture and Pollination

Project Overview

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

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees


  • Crop Production: application rate management
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: farm-to-institution

    Proposal abstract:

    The proposed project’s purpose is to provide information on beekeeping and pollination to University of Illinois Extension, NRCS and other agricultural educators so that they will incorporate the information into their programs. Honeybees and beekeepers play critical roles in the pollination and production of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately the numbers of both beekeepers and honeybee colonies has declined over 50% in the past 12 years. There is a clear need to recruit more individuals into beekeeping and to assist them in order to maintain a critical mass of colonies for pollination of key crops. The intended audience for this project includes not only professional agricultural educators, but volunteer educators such as master Gardeners, 4-H leaders and members of local beekeeping associations who teach classes in beekeeping. In addition, in Illinois a number of classroom teachers teach curriculum units on agriculture. Therefore these teachers are also part of the project’s intended audience. We estimate that we will involve approximately 380 participants in at least one project activity and approximately 200 individuals in total will participate in the project. A project advisory group and surveys of potential participants should increase the likelihood that the intended audience participating. The project will utilize the TeleNet latitude Bridge system to provide information to the majority of its participants. However, there will also be a number of face-to-face presentations, which will be transmitted via the Telenet system. Power Point presentations and accompanying audio will be transmitted from these face-to-face talks to distant sites. In addition, after the face-to-face meetings discussions will be held to talk about the material presented, how it could be used, to answer questions and field suggestions. Because different individuals have different learning styles, a number of field day trips will be arranged at the bee yards of local beekeepers. The major inputs toward accomplishment of the project’s outcomes include staff time, requested and matching funds, and the time allocation of the participants as well as of the audiences they in turn work with. The project outputs include new Power Point presentations and educational materials, as well as networks and partnerships developed by the educator participants. For the proposed project we have identified a number of long-term outcomes in educator behavior that affect stakeholder practices. Behavioral changes among educators include: incorporating information about beekeeping and pollination into new or existing programming; developing networks including beekeepers and growers of crops requiring pollination-to result in more ready access to pollination services; assisting beekeepers with business practices and access to resources-to result in more beekeepers using business plans and receiving loans or crop insurance. Additional changes include 4-H educators and leaders assisting more youth to develop beekeeping projects; assisting beekeepers and other stakeholders to acquire research-based information; developing partnerships between educators and stakeholders so to identify opportunities for on-farm research. Pollination of fruits and vegetables is a key part of developing more sustainable small and mid-size farms. Therefore, we identified as a long-term outcome that educators would work with growers so as to improve their capacities to make better decisions about pollination, to become better consumers of pollination service and to increase efforts to protect pollinators from insecticide injury. Many of these changes will be difficult to evaluate during the two-year project. However, we will use pre/post activity questionnaires to evaluate educator changes in attitude, awareness and knowledge related to the long-term outcomes. In addition, follow-up surveys will be sent to participants six months and one year following their attendance and participation at project presentation, farm visits, etc. Focus groups of participants also will be used to evaluate the project’s activities, and to improve content information and formats of presentations and other programs.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-Term Outcomes:
    Educator Awareness: Role of beekeeping and pollination in agriculture and human nutrition.
    Educator Knowledge: Importance of pollination for fruit and 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 Skills: Identify how to obtain research-based information on beekeeping/pollination (via Extension and project publications/presentations); How beekeeping can be integrated into sustainable small and mid-size farms.

    Intermediate Outcomes:
    4-H leaders, classroom and 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 and 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 and beekeepers to identify research and education needs; Educators increase knowledge of sustainable farmers regarding beekeeping.

    Long-Term Outcomes:
    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 and marketing plans; more beekeepers receiving loans and crop insurance.
    Partnerships between educators and other stakeholder groups provide: Opportunities to conduct 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.

    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.