beekeeping merit badge
By Liz Merrell
Jun 24, 2013

Buzz! Buzz!

Local Boy Scout Leader, Beekeeper, and Businessman Organizes Scout Gala

Shaun Heaton started smoking at age four—smoking bees.

Shaun Heaton bee suit

Shaun Heaton in his bee suit

As an avid Boy Scout, hunter, fisherman, family man, beekeeper, and successful businessman, Heaton is a true renaissance man. Heaton, President of Bonneville Asphalt in Orem, is serving as the 11-year-old Scout Leader for his church unit as well as Chairman 2013 BSA Gala on September 20 at Riverside Country Club in Provo.

Beekeeping is an important part of Heaton’s family legacy. His great-great grandmother began raising bees from a pioneer colony originating from Mormon settlers.

Beekeeping is not native to North America; in fact, the Indians referred to honey bees as the “white man’s fly”.  Honey bees arrived in the 1600’s, but did not reach Utah until 1848.

The Beekeeping Merit Badge was offered by the Boy Scouts of America from 1915 until 1995. It was one of the first merit badges Heaton earned.

Most people assumed Beekeeping was discontinued due to the legal aspects of young boys reacting badly to a bee sting. However, the Beekeeping Merit Badge was actually discontinued due to lack of interest and the difficulty in finding mentors. During the last year the Beekeeping Merit Badge was offered, only 60 badges were earned.

In 2010, a 14-year-old Boy Scout, Christopher Stowell from Oklahoma, led a campaign to reinstate the Beekeeping Merit Badge. When the BSA announced its response to Christopher’s request, the news was good. While BSA did not agree to reinstate the Beekeeping Merit Badge, it did agree to incorporate beekeeping activities into several different existing merit badges.

By the end of 2015, an emphasis on the importance of bees and beekeeping will be added to or enhanced in eight existing merit badges: Bird Study, Forestry, Gardening, Nature, Plant Science, Pulp and Paper, Environmental Science, and Insect Study. One of those badges, Environmental Science, is needed for a Scout to attain Eagle rank. Although the BSA is not reinstating a Merit Badge specific to beekeeping, it is making changes that provide opportunities to expose over 100,000 boys a year to the joys of beekeeping.

Beekeeping projects, such as working with a colony or harvesting honey, will be considered for addition to one or more of those merit badges so that interested Scouts 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 while training America’s young people about caring for this important natural resource.

Angie helping in the bees

Angie helping with the bees

Heaton’s honey will be available for purchase with the winning bid during the silent auction at the Utah National Parks Council, Boy Scouts of America 2013 Gala and Auction at Riverside Country Club in Provo on September 20, 2013. Every ticket purchased to the Gala will be entered to win a 1966 Ford Mustang. For more information or tickets visit www.utahscouts.org/gala.

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