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, 2021) 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 2021:

      Immunity: Threats to Bee Colonies and Methods to Defend Against the Threats (see Honey Bee Essay Contest for more information) 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.)

2021 Project (runs March - August)

  • Friday, February 5, 2021: Registration closed 

  • Project materials should be delivered to you or available for pick up by March 15, 2021.

  • Saturday, 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 6th: Record books are due to your local Extension Office (or mailed; TBD). 

2021 4-H Honey Bee Essay Contest

  • 2021 Topic: Immunity - Threats to Bee Colonies and Methods to Defend Against the Threats

    Honey bee colonies have developed many ways to stay healthy.  Their immune responses range from behaviors such as grooming to using materials such as propolis, a plant-derived substance bees coat on the interior of a hive for antimicrobial purposes.  Even the gut of the honey bee contains beneficial bacteria to help the bee stay healthy!

    In your essay, name at least two threats (a parasite such as Varroa, a pathogen such as a virus, a predator such as a bear, etc.) to honey bee colonies and then discuss the methods colonies use to defend against the threats. If possible, include at least one picture you have taken from Feb. 2020-Feb. 2021 that illustrates how colonies manage to stay healthy against a variety of threats.

  • Due date is Friday, March 19, 2021 to Ashley Burns at taberp@clemson.edu 

  • Click here for 2021 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.

Previous Project Award Winners

    • 2020 Project
      State winners:  Luanne Plemmons, Charleston County (Senior) and Ruth Redding, Abbeville County (Junior) Regional winners:  Stella Eichhorn, Abbeville County - UPSTATE (Junior); Miranda Hughes, York County - MIDLANDS (Junior); Renata Wendelowski, Horry County - PEE DEE (Junior); Trinity Bosley, Berkeley County - SAVANNAH VALLEY (Junior). 
    • 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: Tabitha Weaver, Greenville County (2020); Luanne Plemmons, Charleston County (2018).