The impact of a honey bee extension program

Date: 

2015

Summary: 

My goal is to increase honey bee health by educating beekeepers, gardeners, the public, government, and pesticide applicators. I use a variety of avenues and platforms to educate and inform these individuals including the following:
• Advising particular groups, such as the NYS Pollinator Task Force Team and the Apiary Industry Advisory Committee
• Creating a brand new pollinator website for anyone to access: www.pollinator.entomology.cornell.edu
• Delivering talks on honey bees and wild bees to a variety of audiences
• Internet and newspaper media contributions surrounding honey bee and wild bee health in NYS
• Running booths to showcase honey bees and apiculture at three public events throughout New York
• Developing an online Master Beekeeper Program to reach a large audience of beekeepers
• Organizing upcoming beekeeping workshops at the Dyce Honey Bee Lab
• Writing and contributing to grant applications (both research and extension)
• Creating fact sheets on honey bee pests and diseases with an IPM focus
• Writing articles for NYS beekeeping Newsletters to reach beekeepers

Issue: 

The beekeeping industry is struggling in New York and honey bees are in decline. Last year alone, NYS lost 54% of their colonies. Research into the factors associated with these losses is critical. Just as critical is educating beekeepers and other stakeholders on this research and what they can do to help honey bees. With the majority of NYS beekeepers being hobbyists, it is important to educate these groups on how to best manage their colonies with an IPM focus, to ensure that they are raising healthy honey bees and are not a risk to commercial beekeeping operations. Bees are needed for the production of many important agricultural crops in New York, and pollination services alone are valued at $500 million a year. It is therefore critical to food production that we have high populations of healthy bees.

Response: 

I have been the Honey Bee Extension Associate for nearly five months now. During this time I have performed extension duties encompassed in a variety of forms:
• My involvement with the NYS Pollinator Task Force Team
• Creating a brand new pollinator website: www.pollinator.entomology.cornell.edu
• Delivering 6 talks on honey bees and wild bees to a variety of audiences
• Joining the state’s Apiary Industry Advisory Committee as an advisor
• Appearing in 3 media contributions surrounding honey bee and wild bee health in NYS
• Running booths to showcase honey bees and apiculture at three public events throughout New York
• The development of an online Master Beekeeper Program
• Organizing 3 upcoming beekeeping workshops in the summer of 2016
• Writing and contributing to three grant applications (both research and extension), one of which will be funded and I will serve as Principle Investigator
• Creating 3 fact sheets on honey bee pests and diseases with an IPM focus, in addition to one handout outlining Cornell University’s Honey Bee Research and Extension Program
• Writing an article on honey bee registration in New York that is appearing in two NYS beekeeping Newsletters.

Governor Cuomo’s announcement of the development of a Pollinator Protection Plan has led to my involvement in advising the government moving forward with developing the plan. I delivered a half hour presentation at a Pollinator Task Force meeting and contributed my scientific expertise at a total of three Task Force meetings. I also contributed to a proposed research and extension budget submitted to the state for the Pollinator Protection Plan.

I created a new website to showcase Cornell University as a leader in Pollinator Research. This website has detailed information on pollinator conservation, research taking place at Cornell, news related to pollinators, wild bees of New york, and courses being offered at Cornell. In addition, the website contains information on the upcoming Master Beekeeper Program and contains beekeeping resources in the form of fact sheets and workshop information to help improve the state of honey bee health in New York. The URL for the website is www.pollinator.entomology.cornell.edu

I have delivered 6 talks on bees at several conferences and meetings including the New York Pollinator Conference, The Pest Management Education Program workshop, NYS Integrated Pest Management council meeting, the Apiary Industry Advisory Committee meeting, the Pollinator Task Force meeting, and the Empire State Honey Producers Association fall Meeting. In addition to informing the audience on various topics of bee health and biology, I introduced them to my position at Cornell and how I can best serve them as an Extension Associate.

Perhaps my greatest task during my position here is to create an online Master Beekeeper Program. I have surveyed beekeeping clubs throughout NYS and established that there is a demand for such a program. I have been meeting with eCornell to secure their involvement in the technical aspects of creating and maintaining an online course. I have begun to write course material and organize budgets for how much the program will cost us. I am expecting the first course to run in January 2017.

I have submitted three grant applications in 2015. I have an extension role in two of these proposals in the form of delivering research outcomes in conference presentations and educating others through teaching workshops. The last grant proposal is to perform research investigating honey bee disease and management practices in northern New York. I am the Principle Investigator for this project, and the funding for it has been successful.

I am partnering with some organizations in New York to host three beekeeping workshops at Dyce Honey Bee Laboratory the summer of 2016. The Empire State Honey Producer’s Association and I are organizing a ‘Queen Rearing’ workshop. New York State Bee Wellness and I will be hosting two additional workshops, ‘Train the Trainer’ and ‘Pest and Disease Identification’.

Lastly, I am working on creating extension materials that are specific to beekeeping in New York. These sheets will be published on the pollinator website, they will be available at workshops, and they will be distributed to bee clubs. So far I have created 3 fact sheets, but there are several more to add in the future:
1. Varroa mites: a step-by-step guide to monitoring in New York
2. Varroa mites: a guide to control methods in New York
3. Nosema disease: information for identification and control in New York

In addition to the items listed at the top of this document and those elaborated on in the subsequent paragraphs, I fulfill common duties of extension associates. These duties include interacting with the public via emails and phone calls. Many beekeepers – both new and established – contact me for answers to their questions. I do my best to help them and direct them to the services they require.

Impact: 

So far, my work has helped educate many people (the public, pesticide applicators, gardeners, beekeepers, legislators, etc.) on the importance of honey bees and other pollinators for agriculture and biodiversity. People are becoming more aware of the factors affecting bees, and ways that we can change our behaviors to reduce risks. My informal involvement in the Pollinator Task Force may help shape decisions made for the NYS Pollinator Protection Plan. Only after more time will I have quantitative values to measure my impact. Through research and extension we will hopefully decrease colony losses in New York from 54% to more sustainable levels.

Submitted by: 

  • Mullen, Emma K

Researchers involved: 

  • Mullen, Emma

International focus: 

  • United States of America

United States focus: 

  • New York