Beginner and experienced beekeepers and those thinking about taking up backyard beekeeping can get the information they need to be successful from Beekeeping 101, a new online beekeeping course offered by Penn State Extension.
An interactive approach to online learning that can be taken anywhere and anytime, the course was created by Penn State Public Broadcasting's media professionals in collaboration with Tom Butzler, Penn State Extension horticulture educator, and Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate in entomology.
"The Beekeeping 101 online format opens up Penn State Extension's ability to broaden the access to the course internationally," said Dennis Calvin, director of Penn State Extension and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences. "Whether you're in Pennsylvania or another country, you can participate in a global learning community of beekeepers helping to strengthen the honey bee population."
The 10-module course combines video, multimedia and interactive activities that participants can complete at their own pace. The modules provide basic knowledge needed to keep and manage a healthy beehive and to produce honey and beeswax. Modules cover bee biology, bee behavior, hive management, diseases and pests, swarming, and other topics.
"We can envision school teachers using the course for professional development, and gardeners starting beekeeping as a natural extension of their hobby," said Butzler. "Whether someone is new to beekeeping or wants to add to their beekeeping knowledge, Beekeeping 101 is a fun and interactive way to learn. And don't forget about the honey you can harvest right in your backyard."
About one-third of the human diet comes from insect-pollinated plants. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that the honeybee is responsible for 80 percent of the pollination for many fruits and vegetables, including apples, berries, cantaloupes, cucumbers and almonds.
Honey bees also produce about $150 million worth of honey in the United States annually. The USDA estimates that 95 percent of the more than 200,000 U.S. beekeepers are backyard hobbyists managing fewer than 25 hives.
More information about Penn State's online Beekeeping 101 course is available at http://beekeeping101.psu.edu.