SAE Project Leads to Better Appreciation for Bees

Bee Appreciation Project

Emma Beekeeper

Emma Winesburg and the FFA Bee Project

Bees may be tiny but they provided a huge learning experience for one of our recent graduates in Vinita FFA. 


Emma Winesburg graduated in 2020 and recently shared about her experience with cultivating our first beehives at Vinita High School. As her Supervised Agricultural Experience (SAE) project, Emma helped create and manage the hives from her sophomore year through graduation. 


“The main goal was to inform the community, younger FFA members, and new beekeepers the importance of bees. As well as share with them the success and struggles in the Vinita FFA hives,” she said of her project.


Supervised Agricultural Experiences are a student-led, instructor-supervised, work-based learning experience. SAEs result in measurable outcomes within a predefined, agreed-upon set of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) Technical Standards and Career Ready Practices that aligned with the student’s Career Plan of study. 


Emma also outlined how the project got its start and the many steps it took to get up and running. 


PSO Grant for the Bee Project

“The project began when the Vinita FFA Chapter received a $5,000 dollar grant from the Public Service Company of Oklahoma. After receiving the grant, a plan was put together and supplies were purchased. Soon after, the supers, foundations, feeders, safety materials, and smokers were put together,” she said. 


The hives were placed near our chapter garden as we waited for the bees to arrive. We at Vinita FFA are very intent on safety so naturally, the beekeeping suits, veils, gloves, and closed-toed shoes were worn as students placed the bees in the hives. 


“After the bees were placed in the hives, they were checked once a week during the spring, summer, fall, and winter months,” Emma further explained. “This ensured that the bees had enough space for when the hives expanded and to make sure the queen was still present in the hive. 


“If the hives are not regularly checked the bees could swarm due to not having enough space. Lastly, without a queen, the hive would be no more,” she concluded. 


Emma shared with us how her SAE project improved her understanding of the importance of bees and how that affected her future science knowledge and experience. 


“Through this project, I learned the importance bees have on our daily lives. Without pollinators, we would not have necessities, such as food,” Emma said. “I have also learned leadership skills, time management skills, and found my niche in agriculture.”


Emma continued to talk about how her beekeeping project affects her future. 


“I used all my knowledge from my Supervised Agricultural Experience to strengthen my Agriscience experiments,” she said. “By gaining this extra background knowledge I was able to expand my research for my future experiments.” 


We asked Emma what advice she would give others who want to learn more about bees based on her experience. 


“Suggestions that I would have for others who are potentially interested in bees would be to reach out to other beekeepers for advice, do research before starting your own hives, or visit one of the beekeeping group meetings in your area to learn more,” she said. “Becoming a beekeeper is one of the best decisions I made.”


We also asked Emma what advice she has for younger FFA students who might be choosing their own projects soon. 


“The advice I have for incoming FFA students as they choose their projects is to find the one thing that interests you. Then, set goals within your project and do not stop until you reach them,” she said. “Never stop expanding your knowledge in your project, go through the hardships, and your hard work will pay off in the end.” 


We think those are wise words for our incoming students! Thanks to Emma for taking the time from her first week of college to share with us.