Youth Beekeeping – Entrepreneurship – Building a National Model

2014 Annual Report for YENC14-079

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2014: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Manager:
Jennica Skoug
Community GroundWorks

Youth Beekeeping – Entrepreneurship – Building a National Model



  • Hired and trained beekeeping intern: The funds from this grant allowed us to recruit, hire, train, and supervise a beekeeping intern for the 2014 growing season. This intern entered our program with a strong interest in learning and teaching about beekeeping, but with little prior experience or knowledge. Because we were able to offer one-on-one, hands-on training, however, she learned extremely quickly and did an excellent job passing her knowledge to students who visited the Youth Farm throughout the season!


  • Developed hands-on beekeeping lessons for students: The beekeeping intern and Youth Farm Manager worked together to develop these lessons at the beginning of the season. We developed an introduction to bees and pollination lesson for elementary students, a beeswax lipbalm lesson for middle and high school age students, as well as a list of beekeeping facts and talking points to share with students taking part in hands-on beehive learning.


  • Students participated in hands-on beekeeping: Our beekeeping intern, with assistance from the Youth Farm Manager and farm interns, led several groups of students in hands-on beekeeping activities during our summer and fall seasons. Our middle-school beekeepers visited the beehive once each week during the summer and gained comfort and confidence with the bees, assisted with hive inspections and honey extraction, and learned about the environmental impact of bees on the farm. Our high-school beekeepers also gained comfort with the bees, and learned about environmental threats to hives, and uses of bee products.


  • Honey Extraction: We completed one small honey extraction this season; our middle school students extracted honey in August using a hand-crank extractor on loan from the Dane County Beekeeper Association. Many visiting students during our fall season were able to sample the honey as a tasty part of learning the benefits of honey bees. Because of a cold spring and the newness of our hive, we were not able to collect enough honey to market and sell this year. We were, however, able to turn some of our beeswax into a marketable lip balm product!


  • Lip Balm Project: Our lip balm project was an unanticipated, but very exciting, part of our beekeeping program this year! The lip balm made use of the beeswax collected from our hive, and allowed students to be involved in creating a value-added product. Over 125 students, ages 10 to 18, participated in making lip balm. This winter, we plan to work with the Seed to Table high school program at Madison’s Goodman Community Center to market and sell the lip balm. Five percent of the lip balm will be donated to the Center instead of being sold. We will continue to create value-added products from our bee hive throughout 2015, and continue to involve students in entrepreneurial endeavors to help raise money for the future of our beekeeping program.


  • Students shared beekeeping knowledge: As described in #2 below, our middle school beekeepers were able to share their knowledge of beekeeping with a visiting teachers group as well as a group of younger students interested in the hive.


  • We have learned that a dedicated “bee person” is essential to the success of our beekeeping program – we will continue to hire and train a beekeeping intern as long as we are able to fund the position.
  • We were excited to learn that students reacted very well to experiences with the bees – many named it as their favorite part of the farm, or mentioned changing their opinion about bees from fear to enjoyment!
  • We learned that the size of our apiary limits us to groups of five to ten students around the hive at one time. We also found that time was a limiting factor; students needed at least 30-45 minutes during their program to dress in bee equipment, experience the bees, and rejoin the group. In order to involve students who are only able to visit the farm with a large group – or for a short period of time – we would like to expand our apiary to include additional hives. We are especially interested in an outdoor observation hive for this purpose.
  • We learned to be flexible when thinking about value-added products and entrepreneurship. When our honey harvest was much smaller than the previous year, we were able to utilize the beeswax instead, and still involve students in created a value-added product (lipbalm).


  1. How have you shared information from your project with others? Please include project outreach activities with youth, educators, and others. (Include the number of people who attended field days or demonstrations.)


  • Middle School Beekeeping Students (25 students, 2 adults)
    • Five students participated in weekly hands-on beekeeping with our beekeeping intern throughout their eight-week summer session.
    • All 25 students participated in a “honey day,” which included a small honey extraction and tasting, as well as lip balm making.
    • Two adult leaders observed students participating in both activities.


  • Visiting Teachers (30 adults)
    • Three middle school beekeeping students led a beehive tour and demonstration for 30 visiting teachers who were participating in a garden-based education course. The students demonstrated proper hive inspection techniques, answered questions, and talked about what they had learned.
    • Pictures and videos from this tour will be used in the 2015 Youth Beekeeping Webinar we will develop this winter.
  • Young Beekeepers (12 students)
    • Three middle school beekeeping students led a beehive demonstration for 12 pre-K students who were visiting the farm. Middle school students helped younger students dress in bee clothes, taught them how to behave around the hive, and showed them how to “pet” the bees without being afraid.
    • Pictures and videos from this tour will be used in the 2015 Youth Beekeeping Webinar we will develop this winter.


  • The Grow Academy (6 students, 3 adults)
    • Six students from a Department of Juvenile Corrections program (The Grow Academy) assisted with beehive inspections on two occasions. Students learned the basics of bee anatomy and behavior, as well as proper behavior around the hive, and how to handle bee frames. Three adult leaders observed and asked questions.
    • On a separate occasion, students made lip balm and practiced marketing their product to potential customers (other staff).
  • Kennedy Elementary 5th Grade (100 students, 4 teachers)
    • One hundred fifth grade students participated in beeswax lip balm making during their farm field trips in October.
  • Youth Farm Interns (8 adults)
    • Each of our eight farm interns had a chance to assist our beekeeping intern with a weekly hive inspection. Farm interns helped guide participating students, and experienced first-hand beekeeping themselves as well.
  • Field Trip Tours
    • Many of our field trip groups made a brief stop by the beehive during their orientation and farm tour. Students stopped briefly by the hive to learn the importance of bees on the farm. Over 1,800 students visited the Youth Farm in 2014, and almost all of these students, time permitting, made a brief stop by the beehive as described above


  • Create and present a Youth Beekeeping webinar on edWeb (March 4, 2015): This webinar will be broadcasted nationally to educators on edWeb. The presentation will be recorded for later viewing as well. This webinar will use photos and videos from the 2014 beekeeping season.


  • Create a Youth Beekeeping Brief: This two-page document will summarize advice and resources for educators looking to pilot their own youth beekeeping program. The brief will be published and distributed by the Wisconsin School Garden Initiative, a statewide program of Community GroundWorks.


  • Post Youth Beekeeping Resources on Community GroundWorks website (March 2015): This will include a link to the beekeeping webinar, beekeeping brief, and additional photos and videos.


  • Finish lip balm project (winter 2015): Seed to Table high school students from the Goodman Community Center will use the remainder of the beeswax to make additional lip balm; they will market and sell their lip balm, as well as lip balm created during the summer program, and track profits. Any profits will be divided between the Seed to Table program and the Goodman Youth Farm. Fifth grade teachers from Kennedy Elementary have also been invited to involve their students in selling the lip balm they created this fall – we are hoping for a response from teacher after the holiday break.


  • Tour a local apiary with students (summer 2015): We will plan to arrange this tour for earlier in the summer, so that there is time to reschedule if necessary.


  • Continue to build the beekeeping program: Because of the success of our beekeeping intern through this grant, we have reserved funds in our budget to hire and train a beekeeping intern for 2015. They will implement lessons from 2014, and continue to develop educational beekeeping programs for students. We hope to develop progressive lessons, based on student grade level, and their past exposure to bees. We also hope our hive will survive the winter and produce a large honey harvest for students in 2015!





Jennica Skoug
Goodman Youth Farm Manager
3601 Memorial Drive
Suite 4
Madison, WI 53704
Office Phone: 6089574406
Nathan Larson
Education Director
Community GroundWorks
3601 Memorial Drive
Suite 4
Madison, WI 53704
Office Phone: 6082400409
Moira McAdams
Beekeeping Intern
Community GroundWorks
1218 Spring Street
Madison, WI 53715
Office Phone: 4142137408