Honey Bees on the Farm: Connecting Women Beekeepers and Women Farmers for Environmental and Economic Benefit

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2017: $200,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/29/2021
Grant Recipient: Center for Rural Affairs
Region: North Central
State: Nebraska
Project Coordinator:
Sandra Renner
Center for Rural Affairs
Wyatt Fraas
Center for Rural Affairs


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: beekeeping, pollination, pollinator habitat, pollinator health
  • Education and Training: demonstration, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking

    Proposal abstract:

    In Nebraska, the small-scale beekeeping and diversified/specialty crop farming industries are growing. Many beekeepers lack land for hives, limiting business potential and environmental benefit. Many diversified and specialty crop farmers would benefit from honey bee pollination and pollinator-friendly conservation practices. With continued high bee colony and habitat loss, there is a critical opportunity to support the pollinators we rely on while promoting business sustainability through the co-location, or stacking, of honeybees and diversified/specialty crop farms. The project addresses women in agriculture, an underserved audience with strong conservation values.

    The goal of this project, “Honey Bees on the Farm: Connecting Women Beekeepers and Women Farmers for Environmental and Economic Benefit,” is to increase profitability and environmental sustainability of women beekeepers and women farmers through collaborative approaches while supporting hive health. We will:

    • provide training to women beekeepers and women farmers regarding pollination, related conservation, and stacking farm/apiary enterprises, addressing bee-wise farm practices and farm-wise beekeeping practices, using a proven learning circle format;
    • facilitate stacked farm/apiary enterprises for shared economic and environmental benefit;
    • evaluate changes in crop/honey production and hive health due to co-location, with data used in training;
    • study behavior changes (process by which training/support lead to adoptions of bee-wise management practices and stacked enterprises) to document effectiveness and support future outreach and training efforts
    • share project progress and results widely.


    The project will improve the ability of women farmers and beekeepers to support honey bees and other pollinators on the farm. It will develop connections between women beekeepers and women farmers, enhance their production, and help them collaborate for shared success. Both farmers and beekeepers will gain opportunities to maximize land use and reduce costs by stacking enterprises. Our data collection will quantify benefits of stacked enterprises while documenting the effectiveness of this project’s approach in changing behaviors; this will provide research support to enable for widespread adoption by extension educators and others.

    When farmers improve bee-wise farming practices and/or co-locate with beekeepers, farmers will obtain greater uniformity, size, color, and taste to specialty crops due to pollination services provided by the bees. By working alongside farmers, beekeepers will see improved colony health and greater honey production due to the abundance and diversity of forage provided by specialty crops. The project will also provide environmental benefits via improved conservation practices and honey bee/pollinator protection.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    • Farmers/beekeepers understand pollination concepts, mutual benefits
    • Farmers/beekeepers learn best management practices for agricultural areas
    • Farmers learn pollinator-friendly conservation practices
    • Participants understand production/hive health impacts of project’s co-located bee/farm operations
    • Participant behavior change model researched/documented


    • Beekeepers/farmers stack/co-locate enterprises using best management practices
    • Farmers employ pollinator-friendly conservation
    • Beekeepers/farmers engage with agroecological functions, impacts via learning circles


    • Farmer-beekeeper connection model developed, delivered, shared
    • Understanding of benefit increases, fear decreases regarding bees on farm
    • Improved management and conservation practices support healthier, more productive crops and bees
    • Behavior change research enables widespread replication
    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.