The Future of Beekeeping and the BSA

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The national office of the Boy Scouts of America has recently received a number of requests proposing reinstatement of the Beekeeping merit badge, in part because America’s bee populations are declining. After receiving input from youth members and review by merit badge volunteers and professionals, the BSA has formulated a way to bring greater exposure of beekeeping to youth.

The plan includes the following:

  • Emphasis of the importance of bees and their symbiotic relationship with humankind will be added to or enhanced in eight existing merit badge pamphlets: Bird Study, Forestry, Gardening, Nature, Plant Science, Pulp and Paper, Environmental Science, and Insect Study. This will be accomplished by the end of 2015.
  • The first merit badge to receive the addition will be Environmental Science, which is required for all Scouts earning the Eagle rank. Annually, 73,000 youth earn this merit badge.
  • When fully integrated into the targeted merit badge pamphlets, more than 100,000 Scouts each year will discover the importance of bees and beekeeping as part of a larger environmental picture. The Beekeeping merit badge was first offered in 1915, and from 1980 to 1994, the number of youth earning it ranged from 700 to 1,000 per year.
  • Beekeeping projects, such as working with a colony or harvesting honey, will be considered for addition to one or more existing merit badges so that highly motivated youth members can earn advancement recognition for their beekeeping activities.

The BSA believes this will increase the awareness of honeybees and their critical impact on our environment, and training America’s young people about caring for this important natural resource.

The Boy Scouts of America invites those associations and experts in the beekeeping community who are interested in helping with this project to e-mail us at Please put “bees” in the subject line. The success of the merit badge program is enhanced by qualified merit badge counselors; if you are interested in serving as a merit badge counselor, contact Indian Nations Council to initiate the process.