- Crop Production: pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health
Beekeeper Education and Support in NW Iowa Four basic beginner beekeeping courses have recently been offered to the public in the tri-state region of Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The courses have served over seventy (70) people from an approximate fifty-mile (50) radius, although attendees have come from farther away. Over fifty (50) of the course participants have started keeping honeybees and have become involved in the general promotion of beekeeping and pollinator friendly crops. The majority of attendees have been from Northwest Iowa although attendees have come from South Dakota and Minnesota. Approximately one hundred fifty to one hundred seventy five new bee colonies have been introduced into the region because of the courses. The beginner beekeepers are adjusting to a steep learning curve, and there is a need for additional technical support as they deal with the challenges associated with beekeeping and general pollinator care. The fledgling beekeepers have lacked local support to solve problems and they have become frustrated and discouraged due to winter losses and parasitic mite problems. They have been seeking help to resolve their problems and are currently looking for additional support to help them successfully move forward. Without technical support, encouragement, and direction, the beekeepers face difficult challenges. The President of Iowa Honey Producers Association, Pat Ennis, and the state apiarist Andy Joseph from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship concur with the assessment. One or two technicians will be employed to visit beekeepers on-site to offer technical support, encouragement, and suggestions for improvement. They will also give beekeeping and pollinator presentations to area civic organizations such as Rotary Clubs, Lions Club, and other community organizations to raise pollinator awareness in the region. The project coordinator and the technicians will develop the field days, public presentations, and will develop an improved beginner beekeeping course for future use. A second need for the fledgling group is additional guidance in the formation of a local association that promotes continued education and development of beekeeping in the region. The beekeepers need guidance to develop a long-term organization that will provide continued learning and support. With the encouragement of the Iowa Honey Producers Association and the Iowa Department of Land Stewardship, two different focused field days will be developed and delivered to serve the region in the summer of 2016. The participants will receive training and will develop contacts with other beekeepers and applied researchers.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Employ, train, and equip one or two technicians to serve fledgling beekeepers in the tri-state region of Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota.
- Develop and implement two area field days to:
- promote beekeeper training and advancement
- provide venues for networking, discussion of issues, and prioritization of issues that need future investigative attention
- give opportunities for fledging beekeepers to present to one another what they have learned in the field day setting
- provide training to form a sustainable local association of beekeepers
- bring experienced experts to the area who can offer focused training on specific areas of beekeeping
- Provide pollinator education to the general public
- Develop an improved beginner beekeeper course for implementation at one or both field days.