Creating a Sustainable Honey Bee Depository from Urban to Rural Settings

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2023: $12,860.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2025
Grant Recipient: META
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Project Coordinator:


  • Agronomic: clovers, sunflower
  • Fruits: apples, berries (blueberries), peaches
  • Nuts: chestnuts
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animal Products: honey


  • Animal Production: feed/forage
  • Crop Production: beekeeping, pollination, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: demonstration, focus group, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: apprentice/intern training
  • Natural Resources/Environment: wildlife
  • Pest Management: genetic resistance
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Sustainable Communities: community development, sustainability measures, urban/rural integration

    Proposal summary:

    It has been shown that honey bee numbers in the US are greater in cities than the countryside due to the rising popularity of beekeeping and increased floral availability and abundance within city limits. In the city there are much fewer tree cavities that are acceptable to honey bee swarms than the surrounding woodlands.  Generally these urban swarms go into holes in houses where they are not welcome. The home owner usually exterminates them due to the high cost of live removal ($700 - $1000).  I  became concerned with the extermination of urban bee colonies which could become a rich source of locally adapted pollinators for the farmers who need a dependable and sustainable source of pollination. The decline of honey bees in the US from 6 million in the 1940's to the 2.6 million is documented by the USDA. This decline is most likely due to mite, viral, bacterial, fungal and pesticide usage in conjunction with Colony Collapse Disorder. The monocultures of corn and soybean have destroyed much of the native flowers that honey bees once depended on outside the cities and that problem is not addressed here.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    SOLUTION: I propose to set out swarm boxes using Dr. Leo Sharaskin's model (FNC15-1013) who was a former SARE recipient. He obtained his bees by trapping feral local bee strains adapted to the climate of southern Missouri in the forests of the Ozarks. In 2022 I partnered with the City of Lawrence, Parks and Recreation to set up a sustainable rescue program for bee swarms within the city limits. I put 19 swarm boxes into 19 parks achieving 85% success rate. The city was very pleased with meeting its sustainability goal which was included in its yearly report. The city received many inquiries about what those boxes in the park trees were doing. Everyone who asked questions of Mr. Batten and myself were pleased and thought their tax dollars were being put to good use. We told them that no tax dollars were used and all of the time and materials were supplied by myself. I used repurposed wood and insulation from unrecyclable styrofoam to build the the double-walled hives. I will ask the city to provide a means for citizens of Lawrence to drop off their styrofoam for the 2023 season.

    I proposed to set up a website giving detailed instructions how to go about a community bee rescue plan. I would supply a link to Dr. Sharashkin's website ( which supplies plans for constructing swarm boxes and double-walled insulated hives. I will also include my pans for double-walled insulated hives which use a double deep Langstroth hive model rather than a Layens frame model that Dr. sharashkin uses. My website also would indicate how to monitor the boxes and how to move them to their insulated hives. I want to encourage putting easy-to-read signs on the swarm boxes as a public relations plus indicating the city's efforts for sustainability and if funded include SARE logo also. I will include a list of local farmers who are in need of honey bee pollination. I will demonstrate on the website how to use repurposed wood and insulation for the hives and swarm boxes. I have used styrofoam packing (not recyclable)  and fiberglass stuffing from couches as hive insulation. 

    OBJECTIVES: I want to set up a website by which I can introduce bee rescue programs to other cities.

    I want to set up rescue boxes in Lawrence, Kansas and the surrounding rural areas.

    I want to get volunteers involved who want to help and learn about sustainable beekeeping and help monitor the swarm boxes.

    I want to trap bee swarms looking for genetic strains that are resistant to Varroa mites and provide a local sustainable pollination resource to local farmers in need of pollination service.

    I weigh the trap hive before and after swarm arrival to get an idea of swarm size. 

    I want to encourage beekeepers to trap locally adapted bees rather than buying expensive package bees (now about $200) coming from other areas north and south of our area which usually do not survive our local climate. These packages are 3 lbs. of low quality bees with a queen not related to them. The death rate of over-wintering bees from packages is 40-80% here in Douglas County which is the same as demonstrated in Minnesota.

    I want to use YouTube to demonstrate the bee rescue program in cities and explain how this will help the decline of honey bees.

    I want to use unrecyclable styrofoam collected by the City of Lawrence to insulate the double-walled hives.

    Finally to give an avenue for cities to appreciate and help farmers and increase awareness of the plight of the honeybee.


    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.