Online beekeeping course receives international recognition

The Penn State Extension online course Beekeeping 101 was honored with a 2013 Webby Award for Internet excellence. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A Web-based Penn State Extension course designed to help beginning and experienced beekeepers gain the knowledge they need to be successful has been recognized for online excellence.

Beekeeping 101 was named an official honoree in the 2013 Webby Awards. The course was one of 11 honorees in the Education category. This year's awards program received 11,000 entries from all 50 states and more than 60 countries worldwide.

An interactive approach to online learning that can be taken anywhere and anytime, the course was created by Penn State Public Media in collaboration with Tom Butzler, Penn State Extension horticulture educator, and Maryann Frazier, senior extension associate in entomology.

"The Webby Awards are the leading international awards program honoring excellence on the Internet," said project co-manager Diane Espy, senior producer/director with Penn State Public Media. "As the first Webby Award given to a project at the University, this is a prestigious recognition for Penn State."

Webby winners are chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, a global organization of industry experts and technology innovators. Website entries are judged on content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity and overall experience.

With colony collapse disorder decimating honeybee populations in recent years, educating beekeepers has taken on added significance. About one-third of the human diet is dependent on insect pollination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that honeybees and other pollinators play a crucial role in the production of about $30 billion worth of crops, including apples, berries, cantaloupes, cucumbers and almonds.

"The Beekeeping 101 online format enhances Penn State Extension's ability to broaden 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 honeybee 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.

Butzler noted that the course could be used by school teachers for professional development and by gardeners who want to start beekeeping as a natural extension of their hobby.

"Whether someone is new to beekeeping or wants to add to their beekeeping knowledge, Beekeeping 101 is a fun and interactive way to learn," he said.

More information about the Beekeeping 101 course is available at

Last Updated May 10, 2013