Beekeeping in Colonial Times

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February 17 New Deadline For 4-H Beekeeping Essay Entries

Sources: Tom Webster and American Beekeeping Federation Inc.

February 17 is the new deadline for each county to submit its winning entry in the 4-H Beekeeping Essay Contest. Participation is open to all active 4-H Club members. “Beekeeping in Colonial Times” is the contest theme.

Because the honey bee isn’t native to the United States, the colonists brought their own bees to the New World, just as they did livestock. Thus, essayists might examine all areas of colonial history to determine when colonist bought honey bees this country, areas where these insects arrived, and the honey bee countries of origin.

The scope of research is an essential part of judging beekeeping essays, accounting for 40 percent of participants’ scores. Judges evaluate the number and variety of sources, among other factors. Good research sources include school and public libraries, the county Extension office, the beekeeping professor at a local university, and beekeepers and their associations.

Other factors judges will consider are accuracy, 30 percent; creativity, 10 percent; conciseness, 10 percent and logical topic development, 10 percent.

Essayists should especially pay close attention to the contest rules, as well as spelling, grammar, accuracy, organization and keeping to the topic.

Each local Extension office is responsible for choosing the best essay from those submitted by active 4-H members in the county. Each county winner will be judged by three individuals with beekeeping knowledge to choose the top three essays. These will be awarded $100, $75 and $50, respectively, from the Kentucky State Beekeeping Association. Kentucky’s first-place winner will be entered in the national contest. Cash prizes for the top three national winners are $250, $100 and $50. State and national winners also receive a book about honey bees, beekeeping, or honey.

Essay contestants gain valuable educational experience in biology, economics and other subjects. This experience also helps 4-H members develop many beneficial skills such as research, interviewing, critical thinking, making decisions, creativity and communications.

Youth may discover beekeeping is an excellent 4-H project or hobby. By building an observation hive, they may find that honey bees are amazing creatures to watch.

Honey bees have an important role in our daily lives because they pollinate many crops for human and animal consumption. Hives often are moved around the country for this purpose.

Consumer products developed from honey bee hives contribute to economic development. These products include beeswax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and honey, of course.

Beeswax is an ingredient in cosmetic products like lipstick and is used to make candles. Pollen collected from bee hives frequently is used in health food products. Honey bees also manufacture an antibiotic, propolis, which is harvested and used to treat skin problems. For nutritional purposes, some people eat royal jelly, a nutrient rich material fed to developing larvae that will become queens.

Beekeeping also generates extra income from honey sales.

The essay contest is sponsored by the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Inc.

For more information on the beekeeping essay contest rules, contact Thomas C. Webster, apiculture research and Extension Specialist at Kentucky State University, via e-mail to, or call (502) 597-6351. Your (County Name) Cooperative Extension Service is another information source.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin.


Note county Extension agents: February 17 is the deadline to send the winning county essay to Kentucky’s contest coordinator Thomas C. Webster, apiculture research and Extension Specialist at Kentucky State University. You can submit the winning essay via e-mail to, fax to 502-597-6381, or U.S. Mail to Dr. Webster at Atwood Research Facility, KYSU, Frankfort, KY 40601.


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