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Boy Scouts Merit Badge Idea

15730 Views 33 Replies 27 Participants Last post by  honeydreams

There is a kid here in Tulsa who is in Boy Scouts and is trying to get a movement going to reinstate the beekeeping merit badge. Apparently, that was discontinued by Boy Scouts due to a decline in beekeeping and a general idea that there were not enough people around to mentor the scouts who want to take on beekeeping.

Which brings me to my point: Would you be willing to set up a category on here to link scouts to beekeepers for mentoring for purposes of getting a beekeeping merit badge. Seems like it could work well. If you are willing, I will contact the local scout, get in touch with Boy Scouts and try to help make this happen.

Let me know,

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Sure. Let me know how it will function and how it needs to be set up.
I will volunteer to mentor a scout or 2 or 3 or...... I would also entertain the idea of donating bees for those scouts I mentor and showing them how to build hive bodies if cost is an issue for them. They would need to be from area of course.
This is a great idea. The beekeeping badge was replaced with insect study. One of the requirements is to observe a beehive or an ant colony (like those two are really comparable:)).

You can also get with a local scout troop and offer to be a merit badge counselor for insect study. That will get you listed with the local district or council and your name should come whenever a troop requests a counselor for that badge.

Unfortunately BSA is moving toward "modern" topics for merit badges. I have even heard rumblings of establishing a MB for ATVs and personal water craft. I'm afraid traditional MBs like canoeing and cycling will suffer.

But bees are a hot item right now, so you never know.

Sign me up to volunteer in the central GA area.
There is a local young beek named Christopher Stowell who is a scout and who wants to spearhead this.

There are two problems. First, according to Christopher, Boy Scouts of America is really not interested in reinstating the merit badge. There will need to be a concerted efforted by beekeepers to show that there is interest in exposing scouts to beekeeping. Ideally, there also needs to be some effort by scouts to let the organization know that there is interest in getting a badge if one becomes available. In other words, we need to start a mail/email campaign to get BOA's attention that this matters to people.

Ideally, this forum could be used to start an email campaign and the spread the campaign to all of the beekeeping clubs.

Second, what I envision/hope would be that Barry would let BOA know that this site could be used as a permanent way to connect scouts with beekeepers who would commit to showing the scouts what needs to be done to get the merit badge. One of the reasons that they got rid of the badge was that there were no longer sufficient beekeepers to provide the opportunity to the scouts. While there still are much fewer beeks than there were 50 years ago, technology now exists to put scouts in touch with beeekeepers.

I also intend to call Kim Flottum to see if he wants to get Bee Culture involved. For that matter, I may offer to write an article that Kim could publish in Bee Culture. I also have met Jerry Hayes, and I may contact him to get in touch with the powers that be at ABJ.

Anway, I'm going to send a PM to Barry with contact info. I think it may work best to talk this over without typing everything.

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Unfortunately BSA is moving toward "modern" topics for merit badges. I have even heard rumblings of establishing a MB for ATVs and personal water craft. I'm afraid traditional MBs like canoeing and cycling will suffer.
Thats pretty unbelievable, a MB for personal watercraft :scratch:

I support the idea and hereby offer my services in my area.
I would love to mentor a Scout.
A few years back, I contacted a local Boy Scout troop leader, with the idea I would give back a little of what scouting gave to me. We filled out the paperwork, so I could be a beekeeping merit badge counselor, only to be told by the BSA district people that the BSA had done away with the MB.

I've heard much speculation as to why, but no facts from anyone. If they were to bring it back, I would gladly volunteer.
I have proffered up the same to local scouting and was given the same information.

Count Omaha, NE in with our beekeeping group at BBE-Tech beeyard at Fontenelle Forest.

Big Bear
I have proffered up the same to local scouting and was given the same information.

That's why I suggest becoming a MB Counselor for insect study. Although the MB is broader than bees, it is a starting point to expose them to bees as observing a bee hive can fill one of the requirements. Once hooked, and at least a few of them will be, the interest will spread.

Given the diffulty of re-establishing a Beekeeping MB (listed below), it may be more practical to get more bee related requirements into the insect study MB such as the importance of insect pollination with our food supply and other ways insects benefit humans. Maybe they could even add a requirement to visit an apiary.

Here's some info I found on establishing and changing BSA MBs:
  • The committee that considers new MBs meets 3 times a year.
  • The new MBs need to promote a hobby or career interest and promote the aims of Scouting.
  • When submitting an idea, you need to include the rationale behind the idea, as well as potential sample requirements for the badge.
  • Nearly all of the ideas for new badges are turned down for one reason or another, very few get tabled for consideration. There are two reasons for this.
    • First, it takes around $75,000 to introduce a new MB due to creating the badges themselves, printing of pamphlets, and updating and printing of the Requirement book.
    • Second, there are currently 121 MBs and instead of growing that number to 200 or 500 they want to keep it around 120, so if a new MB is considered another one is usually dropped. That total has remained fairly consistent for the past 20 years or more, ranging from a high of 124 to a low of 116 in that period.
Changes, of course, don't require as complicated a process, but it still can take years for a change to be approved.
The letter should be sent to the Director of the appropriate Program Division, or the Advancement Committee, at the BSA's National Office.

Boy Scouts of America
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P.O. Box 152079
Irving, TX 75015-2079
Back to the topic, you can read here about the last boy scout who received the Beekeeping MB at the bottom of this article.
I contacted BSA headquarters last year regarding reinstating a Beekeeping merit badge. They were less than enthusiastic, and for the most part would not return phone calls or emails. I do think that it can be done, but that it will take time and a coordinated effort with a single contact point. Eight zillion independent efforts will probably only irritate them to the point that they begin responding with a form letter.

Here's a link to that thread. There are several other discussions here regarding the merit badge also that may be helpful.
Having said that, I would suggest that limiting it to Boy Scouts of America (a single entity) is narrow scoped as there are girl scouting and other types of scout groups to which it may be possible to offer support and mentoring services equally.

Perhaps just supporting scouting in general would suffice, then any youth scouting agency might benefit from this.

Just my two cent.

Big Bear
I have scouts that come by from time to time,but would love to help out add me to the list.I wish i could have got that merit badge
I have two sons involved in scouting. My oldest finished all the requirements and earned his Eagle rank this year. his award ceremony is in March. Let me know how I can help. By the way, this year is the 100th anniversary of Boy Scouts.
I applaud Christopher's enthusiasm and efforts to help expose and educate other scouts to the wonders of the honey-bee and our reliance on these vital creatures.

I was the only member of my troop to earn the Beekeeping Merit Badge (my father volunteered to teach the badge but had no other takers) and in all my years of scouting, I only met one other scout who had earned it. Times change, and it has been put out to pasture with many of the 'niche' agriculture based badges that no longer have the same relevance in a society that has moved from regional small-scale farming to commercial agri-business. I expect that we will see the dreaded 'ATV/PWC' merit badge before the Beekeeping badge makes it's return.

As others have pointed out, reinstating or creating new badges is very difficult, and perhaps the best we can do is push to have the discussion of beekeeping expanded in a current merit badge like 'Plant Science' and 'Insect Study' or established as one of the options in the 'Animal Science' badge which outlines requirements for the observation and husbandry of cattle, horses, sheep, hogs, or chickens.

{begin rant}

As a youth who spent more than a decade in Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts (Life Scout), and Explorers/High-Adventure as both a scout and junior-leader, I look back at the organization I was a proud part of with more than a touch of dismay and regret.

I loved the BSA experience, the practical knowledge, and more importantly, the 'soft-skills' it helped teach me and my fellow scouts. However, the changes in national leadership and attitude that occurred in the late '80s/early '90s soured the enthusiasm and goodwill of many scouts, leaders and the public. I can appreciate the social issues that drove many of the changes in national BSA policy during this period, and the well-meaning intentions of those who pushed them, but in the end disenfranchised many of those I had the pleasure of scouting with.

I am equally proud of my OoA Lodge Flap I was given when nominated by my fellow scouts, and the 'Untrainable' patch I was given by my Explorer Post leader after I pressed an ASM as to how he justified his zealous fear-mongering and ad-hominem arguments with the Scout Law and Oath.

{end rant}

sorry about the watermarks
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I have 62 merit badges, including insect study, it was a useless badge, I learned some interesting stuff, did alot of tedious stuff, and none of it was enterprising. Beekeeping is industrious, neccesary, and profitable. I fully support it. I have a mating yard, extraction facility, and warehouse, literally, across the road from my local boy scout camp, I and several other beekeepers here would GLADLY teach it, but of course BSA, will probably not reverse their decision. They seem to be pretty old school and stuffy. But hey, kudos to ya'll working on this, I thought about the same thing when I was 15, and had no success. Let me know if I, personally, can help.
I appreciate the feedback. I understand this will be tough, but that's okay with me. Worth trying.

IMO, the only chance we will have is to get support from scouts and troop leaders for the idea. The idea the beekeepers want a beekeeping badge won't mean anything to BSA. If we can show that there are beekeepers to support it and scouts who would do it, then they at least ought to listen.

So, if you are a beekeeper, a scout leader please advise. Also, if you know scouts or leaders who are not beekeepers but would be interested, those are the sorts of people that we need to make contact with too.

Please keep the posts and ideas coming.


I was an asst scoutmaster for several years in troop 868 in Shepherdsville Ky.We had a group of kids in Washinton DC in route to summer camp a couple of years ago and they were having some type of festival out on the national mall and there was a booth there with some beekeepers and a couple of observation hives.They ask me at the time why BSA had dropped the badge(I'll admit that at the time I didnt know) They had a local guy here that had a couple of hives at the local summer camp and taught beekeeping there. If there is anything I can do to assist your efforts here in Kentucky I would be more than willing to help.
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