A monthly planner that combines phenology and beekeeping to improve honey production and native foraging habitat

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2021: $9,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Julia McGuire
Region: North Central
State: Iowa
Project Coordinator:
Julia McGuire
Julia McGuire

Information Products

A Beekeeper's Year (Manual/Guide)


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, participatory research

    Proposal summary:

    In Dec. 2019, Iowa had 1,330 registered beekeepers (20 commercial) with 2,353 apiaries and 14,174 colonies. The proposed planner will support all beekeepers, especially new ones. It will also address the benefits that sustainable agriculture and my beekeeping practice stand for. It is ecologically sound as it sustains the flora on which beekeeping depends by using phenology, raises awareness of the interconnectedness of beekeeping and the flora around the hives, and possibly leads landowners to increase the amount of native pollinator plants to fill in forage gaps for the bees. The planner will make operations economically viable as the user makes note of phenological events that can maximize nectar flows, manage for swarms with explosive forage bursts, and possibly harvest specialty monocrop honeys at higher prices. It could also be a future source of income for the proposer. Lastly, the planner will be socially responsible. In my five years as a beekeeping instructor and ten as a club leader, I have not found Iowa-specific beekeeping reference materials. By crowdsourcing data, the statewide community would become stakeholder. The planner can especially assist beekeepers without a mentor as its practical nature could lead them into better management for a sustainable apiary.

    Project objectives from proposal:

      1. Increase an individual’s floral awareness with relation to dates by crowdsourcing in 2021
      2. Share data by distributing planners to individuals and magazine editors in 2022, then measure planner effectiveness by asking users:
        • How many native plants could you identify or notice before using the planner?
        • How many native plants could you identify after using the planner for a season?
        • Will you add more native habitat to your apiary/talk to your landowner about same?
        • Was this planner an asset to your practice (bigger harvest, captured swarms)?
        • Would you share more?
      3. Share answers with clubs
    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.