Mississippi is launching an effort to save some of its hardest workers. In light of the decline of honeybee populations around the world, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, in cooperation with several other agricultural organizations, has launched the Mississippi Honeybee Stewardship Program. This program outlines the basic standards that should exist between farmers and beekeepers when bees are located in or near agricultural production areas.
“Mississippi currently produces from 1 million to 1.5 million pounds of honey each year, with an economic wholesale value of approximately $1.4 million to $1.8 million,” said Farm Bureau President Randy Knight. “State beekeepers also produce queens and packaged bees worth more than $750,000 annually. Beeswax has a total wholesale value of approximately $45,000. Because of the importance of the honey industry, farmers and beekeepers have seen the importance of working together.”
One component of the program is the development and distribution of the “Bee Aware” flags that will be used to clearly identify hive locations that are near farmers’ crops. The flag, colored like the body of a bee, should be placed in a location that is highly visible by farmers operating ground-driven spraying equipment or by aerial applicators.
The level of cooperation between farmers and beekeepers has been high enough so far to keep the program voluntary in Mississippi. In some states, however, laws have been passed requiring beekeepers and farmers to follow certain procedures.
Farm Bureau developed the Mississippi Honeybee Stewardship Program with the support and cooperation of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, Mississippi State University Extension Service, the Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, the Mississippi Beekeepers Association, the Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association, and the Mississippi Ag Industry Council.