- Animals: bees
- Education and Training: youth education
- Farm Business Management: agritourism
Since the late 1990’s, beekeepers have noticed a decline in honeybee population including high rates of collapse within colonies. Beekeepers have reported between 30-50% higher rates of hive loss. The declining bee population is a serious concern and issue facing humans globally. Pollinators have a great impact on food production, the balance of ecosystems, and the farming community. There is an awesome symbiotic relationship between these essential pollinators and the farmers.
For beekeepers, this problem of a declining honeybee population is a constant worry and heartache. However, to the average community member, there is a lack of awareness in regards to the honeybees and the severity of their situation. Often times, the general public unknowingly uses harmful pesticides and treatments for their homes and lawns that hurt the pollinators. Unintentionally, these same people are not conservation minded in regards to chemical use, local food purchasing, and the mowing of wildflower areas.
There is a lack of conservation programs in the Fort Wayne area that focus on pollinator education. There are no pollinator education programs within ninety (90) miles of Fort Wayne. This makes it very difficult for educators to find field trips and guest speakers for their science courses and in field experiences. Adults who are interested in educating themselves on honeybees find themselves travelling long distances to reach programs that only run seasonally in other cities.
The importance of solving these problems offers the chance to help others see the value and importance of these issues surrounding the pollinators and ways to help. These include ideas such as purchasing local honey and produce, and being conscious of daily habits that can be changed or amended to better help the environment in which they live and the honeybees they share it with.
Education is the most effective way to influence and change a community’s perspective on the importance of the honeybee population. This project will host hands-on educational experiences for 1,000 people within Northeast Indiana by May of 2018. To provide resources for consumers is to change the future of agriculture. Southwest Honey Co. will host classes on the grounds of the Southwest Conservation Club and students will learn about pollinators (honeybees), their impacts on farming, the ecosystem, and the environment, the inner workings of the hive, and the devastation of the bee population and what they can do to help.
The sustainable agriculture solutions we are using will be based on Southwest Honey Co.’s three-tiered plan designed to target each age demographic. This includes customized educational experiences for each group: children and youth, adults and seniors. Children are the future of agriculture, and it is important to cultivate conservation minded practices that instill a desire for activities such as future beekeeping. Adults are active voters and knowledge of pollinators may impact their ability to influence legislature in favor of protecting pollinators. With education, adults can change the their everyday practices and create an immediate impact on agriculture. This test of consumer practices will bring about solutions to the agricultural problem of the plight of the honeybees.
To measure changes in food buying habits, pesticide and chemical use, and general consumer habits students will take a pre survey, a post survey and a survey sent to them after 6-8 months.
All educational sessions will include an opportunity to tour the apiaries and students will leave with a packet with information regarding pollinators, beekeeping, and conservation efforts. Solving this lack of education will bring change to consumer practices and therefore increase crop yields, creating a strong correlation to farmers and the honeybees.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Host hands-on educational experiences on beekeeping and pollinator plants for 1,000 people within Northeast Indiana by May of 2018.
- Inspire students through educational experiences to make daily life habits that will positively impact the environment, and thus the honeybee population, and potentially take up beekeeping themselves.
- Grow the local honey market by educating consumers about these products.