A Qualitative Study of Mass Media Reports about Honey Bee Decline and Beekeeper Practices
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of mass media reports about honey bee decline on the practices of small-scale beekeepers. To accomplish this, the researcher conducted a three-component qualitative investigation. The first component was a content analysis of mass media reports about honey bee decline. The second component was an interpretive qualitative study of beekeepers. The third component compared the results of the component one content analysis to the component two interviews with beekeepers. The comparison attempted to identify common or divergent themes related to beekeeping practices and media coverage of honey bee decline. The mass media reports used in this study were collected over a three-month period. They included television, radio, and print stories that were aggregated through Google News Alerts using the search words honey bee decline, colony collapse disorder, Africanized bees, and killer bees. Additionally, semi-structured interviews were conducted with small-scale beekeepers in Texas to learn more about their lives, and their experiences with managing hives. The intentional selection of small-scale beekeepers, rather than commercial beekeepers, allowed the researcher to narrow the study to those who pursued beekeeping as a hobby and not as a business. The findings revealed that many of the attitudes reflected in the beekeeper interviews were congruent with information reported through mass media on issues ranging from honey bee decline to conservancy of the environment. The beekeepers were enthusiastic about caring for their bees and maintaining their pastures and gardens. They were also concerned about the phenomenon of honey bee decline, even if they hadn't yet experienced the malady in their own hives. Many of the beekeepers interviewed in this study indicated lack of trust in the media. They used words including "liberal," "emotional," "biased," "hype," and "does not get that granular," when describing mass media and media reporting. Alternatively, many beekeepers interviewed in this study said that YouTube and the Internet were their preferred sources for beekeeping information. Among those interviewed, bee associations and bee schools were also highly ranked as origins of information.
Walther, David R (2021). A Qualitative Study of Mass Media Reports about Honey Bee Decline and Beekeeper Practices. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from