Back to Basics: Training the Trainers at the Eastern Apicultural Society Conference

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $22,313.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
Principal Investigator:
Dr. David Tarpy
North Carolina State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, economic threshold, genetic resistance, integrated pest management, physical control, prevention, traps

    Proposal abstract:

    Honey bees are the most beneficial arthropods to agriculture in the southeast because they are used by growers of numerous crops that rely on their pollination for fruit set. Honey bees have been plagued by numerous problems over the last two decades, particularly the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and the mysterious condition termed Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). As such, there has been an increased need for education and outreach within the beekeeping community to maintain a healthy honey bee population. The purpose of this proposal is to disseminate the latest knowledge and technologies to promote bee health to those who will further deliver them to beekeepers. This training will be held at the 2010 annual conference of the Eastern Apicultural Society, which holds the largest yearly gathering of beekeepers on the eastern seaboard. Our objective is to train extension agents, Master Beekeepers, and other outreach officials at the week-long conference in key issues concerning the industry. For agents or other inexperienced officials, we will offer trainings on basic beekeeping at the Introductory Short Course during the first two days of the conference. For experienced Master Beekeepers or agents, we will offer advanced trainings on varroa IPM, queen rearing and bee breeding, CCD, and the Africanized honey bee. Outreach materials and follow-up surveys will be provided to gauge the effectiveness of subsequent trainings by participants and measure the impact on the beekeeping community.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Objective 1: Educate novice extension agents in basic beekeeping techniques to create new conduits for apiculture outreach.
    We will conduct follow-up surveys following the conference for all self-identified extension agents to promote their involvement in local beekeeping activities. These contacts will be in conjunction with local and state groups and apiculture specialists.

    Objective 2: Provide hands-on training to participants in applying new control methods for varroa mites so that they may further teach varroa IPM strategies to beekeepers.
    Prior to trainings in varroa control, we will survey each beekeeper as to their current methods. Following the conference, during the primary treatment season for varroa (September and October), we will conduct follow-up surveys to document a change in control tactics. This will provide statistical evidence for the degree of adoption of IPM tactics for sustainable varroa control.

    Objective 3: In conjunction with other ongoing extension projects, provide workshops on queen rearing and clinics on bee breeding (including instrumental insemination) to advanced beekeepers.
    We will collaborate with volunteer beekeepers who participate in this training to send in samples for genetic analysis (as part of a larger training effort in bee breeding). This will enable us to report back to participating beekeepers valuable information about their genetic diversity, sperm viability, and queen quality of their stock.

    Objective 4: Hold a break-out session on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), including updates from the leading researchers and a round-table discussion involving apiculture officials, academics, and commercial beekeepers.
    We will record the discussion on CCD and make it available online. Using a web interface, we can then expand the discourse beyond those that simply attend for feedback and commentary. This will also enable us to collect information about responses and changes in attitude among beekeepers.

    Objective 5: Develop and deliver a comprehensive plan for public education of Africanized honey bees (AHB), the so-called “killer” bees, in preparation of their predicted invasion and spread along the eastern seaboard.
    We will perform pre- and post-evaluations of “attitudes” towards the AHB. This will enable us to document the change in perception as a result of the training. In a similar effort in NC, for example, we have shown that attendees decreased their perception of the AHB as a “serious threat” by 33% (average of 1.61 on a scale of 0.0 to 5.0). Similarly, the attendees answered the questions correctly at least 92% (range 92.2% - 95.8%) of the time after the training, whereas they answered the questions correctly less than 86% (range 69.9% - 86.3%) of the time prior to the training. As such, we have demonstrated a significant positive impact of these training sessions and outreach materials generated by this project. This proposal will magnify the scope of data collection and outreach by increasing the number of venues where these trainings are provided (see below).

    Objective 6: Consolidate slide sets, handouts, and other materials for each participant to utilize in their own outreach efforts for delivery of learned information to their local beekeeper clientele.
    Each set of materials will include generic evaluation forms. These forms will then be collected each time additional trainings are delivered for consolidation and statistical analysis. This process will enable us to greatly magnify the outputs of the trainings by having them repeatedly delivered and their impacts documented in a central location.

    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.