One of the major threats to bees is pesticide usage, and beekeepers constantly complaint that farmers spray pesticides without regard to their neighboring hives.
In Florida, however, beekeepers and citrus growers are trying something different: cooperation.
A couple of years ago, the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture called together citrus growers and beekeepers and other interested folks to form a plan to ensure the safety of beehives while also allowing Florida’s all-important citrus industry to make oranges and grapefruit for the rest of us. As Southeast AgNet reports, the plan they put into effect could become a model for the rest of the nation.
Florida will be a key part of a nationwide effort to improve cooperation and coexistence between growers and beekeepers. The department has been asked by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to partner with four other states to promote voluntary programs like the one instituted in Florida. (quoted)
The recommendations formulated two years ago included these (again, we’re quoting Southeast AgNet):
• Beekeepers should develop and maintain one-on-one communications with citrus growers who have groves where they would like to place their bees.
• Beekeepers should work with growers to reach written agreements providing permission to place hives in groves.
• Beekeepers should inform growers of hive locations, status, concerns and be willing to remove hives promptly if the need arises.
• Growers should consult the department’s online tool to identify beekeepers with hives in their areas.
• Growers should develop formal agreements with beekeepers detailing the responsibilities and liabilities of each party.
• Growers should develop a pest management plan that accommodates the likelihood of bees foraging during bloom.
There’s more information about all this at www.FloridaBeeProtection.org.
Key words: beekeepers, citrus growers, protection of beehives, pesticide use, Florida Bee Protection, Florida Commission of Agriculture, Southeast Agnet, protection of bees