Professional Development Program in Apiculture and Pollination

2004 Annual 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

Professional Development Program in Apiculture and Pollination


Summary: This project is designed to increase awareness and knowledge among agriculture educators and volunteers about the importance of beekeeping and pollination to sustainable agriculture so that they will incorporate this information into their programs. Six Power Point presentations were developed for the project; participants in workshops also opened a “working” hive. Evaluations indicated that participants enjoyed the workshops, increased their understanding of beekeeping and pollination topics and had also identified how they will use the information in their programs.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Project Outcomes

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.

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.

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.


Accomplishments by Objective

The focus of this first year report is on Short-Term Outcomes. Written workshop evaluations (see below) as well as oral and written comments provided information relevant to a number of the Short-Term Outcomes. These outcomes are restated below along with data relevant to accomplishments for each of the outcomes.

Outcome: Educator Awareness of the role of beekeeping and pollination in agriculture and human nutrition;

Outcome: Educator Knowledge of the importance of pollination for fruit and vegetable crops;

Outcome: Educator Knowledge of the role of honeybees in pollination.

The evaluation forms used five questions that addressed these three outcomes. At the end of the workshops educators and Master Gardeners were asked to assess their gains in awareness or knowledge, or changes of attitude due to participating in the workshops. They used a scale of 1 to 5; 1 meaning having very little knowledge and 5 meaning having a substantial amount of knowledge about a specific topic. A considerable majority of participants 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. The increases in knowledge, etc as judged by the participants themselves are listed below:

Knowledge of basic pollination processes increased: 3.6 to 4.4

Knowledge of results of inadequate pollination increased: 3.0 to 4.4

Knowledge of importance of insects for pollination increased: 4.5 to 4.9

Knowledge of 8 Midwestern crops requiring pollination increased: 3.6 to 4.5

Attitude positive of honeybees increased: 4.3 to 5.0

Outcome: Educator knowledge of basic beekeeping.

Knowledge of honey bee biology increased: 3.3 to 4.4

Knowledge of the role of honeybee swarms increased: 2.8 to 4.4

Outcome: Educator Knowledge of how to protect pollinators from insecticides.

Knowledge of precautions for spraying insecticides increased: 4.1 to 4.5

Educators and Master Gardeners had previously requested information relevant to the issue of pesticides and pollinators: 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 what to do if one has identified a honey bee swarm or colony nearby. This is important because people often spray pollinators and other insects that they fear. Participants assessed an increase in their knowledge of these topics, as indicated by the following:

Knowledge of different stinging insects increased: 3.5 to 4.5

Knowledge of how to assist the public to deal effectively
with stinging insects increased: 3.0 to 4.5

Educator Knowledge of how to be a knowledgeable consumer of pollination services – was addressed primarily in the workshops with growers. A Power Point presentation on the topic was presented, in addition to one on pollination and a fact sheet provided on the needs of specific crops as well as article on pollination of small fruits (See publications). Based on questions and comments from growers, in our estimation, at least half or more increased their knowledge of these topics.

Educator skills on how to obtain research-based information on beekeeping/pollination from university sources was not assessed but was addressed in several Power Points and in the pollination Factsheet and the article on pollination of small fruits.

Other Short-Term Outcomes that were not assessed include: Educator Knowledge of the importance of a network of beekeeping and growers’ associations as sources of information and industry support; Educator Knowledge of the importance specific needs, etc of the beekeeping industry; and Educator Attitudes regarding the importance of working with beekeepers and those interested in apiculture.

Regarding Intermediate and Long-Term Outcomes, in the main it is too early to try to determine whether or not changes in behavior and practice have or will occur as a result of participation in the project. However, information was collected in this past December’s workshop regarding participants’ intentions to change their behaviors and practices. Participants were asked to state specifically how they planned to use the information from the workshops in their programs and activities. These plans are listed below:
To help solve homeowner problems and misconceptions about pollinators.
To educate and help with inquiries from clientele.
Answer questions from unit leader to public; hosting beekeeping meeting.
To answer questions and to make my area more attractive to bees.
Hobby beekeepers; school talks.
In my future use working with honey bees as a hobby.
Answer homeowner’s bee questions.
Share with Extension clients – will also incorporate into current/new programs.
We use the Ortho book to ID insects. I’ll save handouts and put into file to use.

In addition, we plan to contact a sample of participants from the workshops to determine if and how they are using the information provided during the workshops.

Description of work accomplished towards outcomes listed below: Ninety-seven educators, unit leaders, Master Gardeners and growers participated in six half-day workshops in northern, central and southern Illinois. Power Point presentations were developed on: pollination biology, pollination needs of specific fruit and of vegetable crops, native bees, identification of stinging insects and “How to be a knowledgeable consumer of pollination services.” Participants in late spring and summer workshops also opened “working” bee hives and identified the different castes, reproductive stages, pollen, nectar and honey. In addition to the Power Point presentations, an article on pollination needs of small fruits, a fact sheet on fruit and vegetable pollination and one on identifying stinging insects were prepared for the project (Publications). Following Jacobson’s attendance at the November, 2004 PDP meeting in Nebraska City, a considerably improved evaluation form was developed. With that form, at the end of the workshop participants rated changes in awareness, knowledge or attitude attributable to the information in the workshop. It is our intent to use this type of evaluation for the workshops during 2005.

What work is left to do: For 2005 we will make several changes to improve the project. These include 1) increased targeting of both NRCS and Soil and Water conservation district audiences, including taking advantage of already scheduled training opportunities; 2) a greater number of workshops that target 4-H youth development educators and volunteers; and 3) more workshops that target both Master gardeners and Extension educators. Regarding the latter, during 2004 we learned that targeting only educators resulted in disappointingly small audiences. This was true even though one of us (Hoard) is a member of the IPM and horticulture Extension teams that should be “naturals” for the workshops. Once we starting working through Master Gardener coordinators, we found that overall attendance increased and we were reaching at least as many educators as before. We also plan to offer a workshop near St. Louis, Missouri and perhaps one near the Wisconsin border, so as to facilitate participation by educators from those states.

A major change that we are making concerns the technology of distance learning. We had proposed and planned to utilize the University of Illinois TeleNet Latitude Bridge system; through we could reach all Extension office and community colleges as well. However, we soon learned from further discussions with educators that this system has proved to be a problem for Extension because different offices often have computer equipment of different capabilities. The result is that the audiences in some Extension offices may still be waiting for a Power Point slide to appear for several minutes after it has appeared in other offices and after the speaker is through discussing that slide. Instead, we will be using an approach that the University of Illinois Extension Horticulture Team uses to reach consumers across the state. That is, CDs with relevant Power Points are mailed to participating individuals or offices and then meetings are scheduled in Extension offices for a specific time across the state. At a meeting in another location the speaker gives a specific Power Point presentation to a live audience, the audio portion is transmitted to participating offices and the speaker indicates when a new slide should be shown. Extension travel budgets have been reduced over the past two years and this is a factor in an educator or volunteer’s decision to attend a specific training. By utilizing the distance learning approach, we will be able to reach persons in numerous locations without their having to incur travel expenses. An additional advantage is that the CDs will be available for later reference or use by educators and volunteers. Further, Extension staff and volunteers in offices in additional states may be able to “plug into” these distance learning opportunities utilizing CDs.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Impact and Contributions/Outcomes

How has/will this training benefit producers/consumers and others in the NCR?

Benefits to producers: these include growers achieving increased pollination and production of fruit and vegetable crops by renting the appropriate number of honey bee colonies for their specific crops and sites. The two workshops for growers utilized Power Point presentations on specific pollination requirements and one entitled “How to be a knowledgeable consumer of pollination services.” (These two practical, “grower-oriented” power Points will be available on the Project website this spring for Extension educators to use in additional presentations to growers.) In addition, both the article in the Proceedings of the Illinois Strawberry School (Appendix 1) and the fact sheet provided recommendations on the number of colonies needed for pollination of specific crops. These provide growers with the “tools” and guidelines needed to determine that they are renting colonies that are populous enough for economically sufficient levels of pollination. As a result, growers will be able to earn greater net income from their operations. Pollinating beekeepers, at least in some cases, will increase their income due to greater demand for their colonies. This in turn may bring about their increasing the number of colonies available for pollination — providing greater assurance to growers that colonies will be available when they are needed. Increased knowledge among producers of how to reduce pesticide damage to both honey bees and naive pollinators will benefit the growers as well as the beekeepers.

Acres in tree fruit production are decreasing in Illinois. An article in the Springfield State Journal Register of March 11, 2005 described how the next-to-last apple orchard in the Chicago area was to be sold to developers. The owners cited poor crops in the past two years as the major incentive to sell their orchard this year. Adequate pollination of apples is a major factor affecting production that is often poorly understood by growers. Currently there are too few colonies and rental fees have increased 30-40% or more within three or four years to $55 or more per colony in many areas. Growers rent from one to three colonies per acre, depending on the crop. By improving habitat and food resources for native bees as discussed in the workshops, some growers of tree fruits will be able to eliminate or decrease the number of honey bee colonies they need to rent, and thus save money,. In cool, wet springs, these native pollinators will provide better pollination of tree fruits than do honey bees. Information on native bees and additional informational sources on the topic were provided in the workshops. It is our intention to provide these kinds of information to as many fruit and vegetable specialists as we can.

Economic benefits to producers can provide economic and nutrition benefits to consumers. Improving producers’ “bottom line” will allow them to sell produce at lower costs. In addition, improvements in production and net income should increase the chances that growers will continue farming, or in some case even expand their operations. Local production of fruits and vegetables provide nutritional benefits to consumers. In addition, the continuation of family, mostly small farms that grow fruits and vegetables contributes to the sustainability of rural communities, unlike the huge grain and soybean operations that contribute to losses of rural populations and available services in much of the Midwest.

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.


Mark Hoard

[email protected]
Extension IPM specialist
University of Illinois Extension Mt. Vernon Center
4112 N. Water Tower Place
Mt. Vernon, IL 62864
Office Phone: 6182429319