South Carolina Honey Bee Project

The Honey Bee Project, one component of the South Carolina 4-H Pollinator Program, is an independent-study project that engages youth (ages 5-18 years) in the active role of beekeeping, learning the basics of entomology, and gaining an appreciation for the role of pollinators in our world.

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Youth will:

  • Set goals and plan activities and strategies to achieve those outcomes, even in the face of challenges.

  • Reflect on their yearly work by documenting their skill development and learning experiences.

  • Give back to their communities through educational and service activities.

  • Learn valuable skills in record keeping, financial management, and communication.

  • Become good stewards of the environment and gain technical expertise that can promote beneficial practices.

Age Divisions: (all ages are as of January 1, 2020) Each youth will receive 2 copies of the project record book. One may be used as a draft copy and the other may serve as the final product that is turned in at the end of the project. Only ONE record book can be submitted for each participant.

  • Cloverbud, 5-8 years of age

  • Junior, 9-13 years of age

  • Senior, 14-18 years of age

    • Research topic for 2020:  TBA  This topic applies to the "Honey Bee Research" section of the project record book for seniors.

We understand that beekeeping often requires the management of multiple colonies or hives. We encourage this, but only want youth to report on ONE managed colony during the project season. (You are responsible for providing your own bees and equipment for this project. If you need assistance with this, contact your local 4-H Agent or beekeeping association.)

2020 Project (runs March - August)

  • Friday, February 7, 2020: Registration deadline - REGISTER ONLINE

  • Project materials should be available for pick up at your local Extension Office by March 1, 2020.

  • Wednesday, May 1st: Your hive must be installed in the apiary you will use. (Hives can be moved during the project, but you must have your hive and begin records no later than May 1st!)

  • Friday, August 7th: Record books are due to your local Extension Office. 

2020 4-H Honey Bee Essay Contest

  • 2020 Topic: Overwintering: Bee Survival through the Cold Season

    Honey bees have developed special skills to overwinter in the United States. Please discuss one of these skills and then include a discussion about what you do to prepare your hives for winter. Include a photo of one of your hives, either using infrared technology or showing winter wrap, hay bales, special feeders, etc. to demonstrate how you prepare your hives for winter.

  • Due March 13, 2020 to Ashley Burns at taberp@clemson.edu 

  • Click here for more information (PDF 0.4MB) 

  • State and National Awards available!!!

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What does this project involve?
    Youth will be supplied with a record book and a few supplementary materials that will help get them started. Youth will be responsible for managing a colony of bees and recording their efforts in their record book. Record books have been specifically designed for each age division. At the end of the project, youth will submit their record book for judging at the county level. County-winning record books in the Junior and Senior age divisions will advance to the regional- and state-level for judging.
  • Do 4-H'ers have to own their own bees to participate in this project?
    No, youth do not have to own the bees, hive/equipment, or land the bees are managed on to participate in this project, but they will need access to those resources (not supplied by the project). Youth need to be responsible for managing a colony of bees and recording their efforts (setting goals, making decisions, learning, etc.).
  • What does a 4-H'er need to participate in this project?
    Youth need access to beekeeping equipment, a colony of bees to work with, and an experienced beekeeper to help them. While we do not have a formal structure or requirement for a mentor system, we strongly recommend for youth to work with someone who is knowledgeable about managing bees. This will help them "bee" successful and have more fun!!! Contact your local beekeepers association or County Extension Office if you need help making contacts.
  • What if we don't know anything about bees, can we still enroll in this project?
    YES!!! This project is designed to be a learning experience and provide flexible opportunities to engage in the active role of beekeeping and hive management. Based on the level of interest after registration closes, we will offer a kick-off tutorial and hive-building workshop! Your local beekeeping association and County Extension Office should serve as a good resource for you.

Interest Meeting

Cloud Recording of Zoom Meeting

4-H Presentation (PDF 8MB)

Previous Project Award Winners

    • 2019 Project
      State winners:  Luanne Plemmons, Charleston County (Senior) and Wilson Oxner, Lexington County (Junior) Regional winners:  Ruth Redding, Abbeville County - UPSTATE (Junior); Megan Farrell, Greenwood County - UPSTATE (Senior); and Tristen Altman, Florence County - PEE DEE (Junior). 
    • 2018 Project
      State winners:  Maya Counts-Elliott, Horry County (Senior) and Luanne Plemmons, Charleston County (Junior) Regional winners:  Austin Wimberly, Anderson County - UPSTATE (Senior); Ansley Callahan, Pickens County - UPSTATE (Junior); Nicholas Stalford, York County - MIDLANDS (Senior); Wilson Oxner, Lexington County - MIDLANDS (Junior); William Howard, Florence County - PEE DEE (Junior).
    • 2017 Project
      State winners:  Margot Plemmons, Charleston County (Senior) and Wilson Oxner, Lexington County (Junior) Regional winners:  Megan Farrell, Greenwood County - UPSTATE (Senior); Ansley Callahan, Pickens County - UPSTATE (Junior); Wyatt Hallman, Lexington County - MIDLANDS (Senior); Peter Pendleton, Horry County - PEE DEE (Senior); William Howard, Florence County - PEE DEE (Junior); and Luanne Plemmons, Charleston County - SAVANNAH VALLEY (Junior).
    • Essay Contest Winners
      State winners: Luanne Plemmons, Charleston County (2018).