Florida Citrus Growers, Beekeepers a Model for the Nation

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Florida Citrus Growers, Beekeepers a Model for the Nation
Partnership Formed One Year Ago Under the Leadership of Commissioner Putnam

Tallahassee, FL – One year after Florida citrus growers and beekeepers joined in an innovative, voluntary partnership, the program has become a model for other states researching how to garner cooperation between beekeepers and agricultural producers.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam gathered a group of citrus growers and beekeepers together in September 2013 to discuss the importance of both industries and how they could better cooperate to ensure the safety of bee hives near citrus groves. This meeting resulted in a series of recommendations for the long-term coexistence of the two industries.

“Beekeeping and crop production are both important parts of agriculture, and one industry can’t thrive without the other,” said Commissioner Putnam. “It is exciting to see beekeepers and growers working together in Florida to solve common problems, and we are proud to be part of that effort.”

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.

Citrus production, honey production and pollination services are all important sectors of Florida’s $108 billion agriculture industry, but the relationship has at time been a challenge. In a series of public meetings, the department assembled citrus growers, beekeepers, the University of Florida- Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and other interested stakeholders to identify how to lower risks to honeybees while allowing citrus growers to continue important practices to combat citrus greening and other pests and disease.

Some of the recommendations included:

  • 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.

To view the full list of recommendations, please visit www.FloridaBeeProtection.org.  For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com.

Contact: Erin Gillespie(850) 617-7737

Twitter: @FDACSNews


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