Entomology, Department of


First Advisor

Dr. Doug Golick

Second Advisor

Dr. Judy Wu-Smart

Date of this Version



Gross, B. (2020). Women in beekeeping: Impacts of a beekeeper education program. [Master's thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.] Digital Commons.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Entomology, Under the Supervision of Professors Doug Golick and Judy Wu-Smart. Lincoln, Nebraska: December, 2020

Copyright © 2020 Bridget A. Gross


The decline in honey bee populations over the past two decades in the United States is alarming. The management provided by beekeepers to their honey bee colonies influences the survival of the colony. However, there is a lack of information on the experiences of beekeepers, specifically women beekeepers. The Center for Rural Affairs (CFRA) in Nebraska hosted the “Honey Bees on the Farm: Connecting Women Beekeepers and Women Farmers for Environmental and Economic Benefit” program that provided informal, educational events to women beekeepers and landowners. Using a convergent mixed methods design, the first research question examines the impacts of the Women in Beekeeping program on participant’s knowledge, self-efficacy, management, and colony health. Nine beekeepers from the Women in Beekeeping program participated in a series of surveys, interviews, and video-recorded hive inspections to measure the program’s impacts. Participant knowledge and management did not significantly increase after participating in the program. Participant self-efficacy improved after participating in the program. Colony health significantly improved from May to July while participants were involved in the program. Compared to beekeepers not in the program, those who were in the program were more knowledgeable about general pollination iii knowledge and had different views regarding colony health. Both populations were similar in terms of self-efficacy and management.

The second research question examines the experiences of twelve women beekeepers. I used a transcendental phenomenological approach to focus on the lived experiences of the women beekeepers. Women reported generally positive experiences with the local beekeeping community, and connected their beekeeping experiences to their experiences with motherhood and family. Additionally, beekeeper’s values played a role in how they managed their hives and their experiences beekeeping. Overall, beekeeper educational programming should continue to provide hands-on informal programs, but more research is needed to fully understand the impacts of these programs.

Advisors: Douglas Golick, Judy Wu-Smart