In light of declining honey bee populations worldwide, representatives of Arkansas’ agricultural producers and beekeepers have develop a set of standard practices to encourage cooperation and communication between growers, pesticide applicators, and beekeepers.
The Arkansas Pollinator Stewardship Program will seek to minimize economic losses for both farmers and beekeepers by adequately managing row crop pests while minimizing impact of pesticides on honey bee colonies.
Many beekeepers are also multi-generational farm families. Their livestock may be small, but their honey bees play a vital role in our food production. Bee pollination improves the yield and quality of farm products, and adds billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.
Arkansas honey bee hives may be trucked to many other places to provide pollination for important crops. These same bee colonies rely on our state’s vast agricultural landscape to maintain them while not on the move. While some of our state’s crops may not rely on bee pollination, cooperation between Arkansas growers and beekeepers helps to keep food on the table for all Americans.
Cooperation Begins with Communication
Farmers and beekeepers are encouraged to foster a strong level of communication beginning with the exchange of basic information: names and phone numbers.
All parties should be aware of the number and locations(s) of bee hives on the farm property, which crops are grown in fields adjacent to the bee hives, and general information on the timing of pesticide applications expected in the nearby fields.
Cooperators should keep an open dialogue during the growing season regarding changes within the cropping system or spray schedule, and the movement of bee hives onto or off of the farm. Cooperators should consider each other’s needs when making decisions, and notify the other party of important changes if necessary.
The presence of a yellow and black striped Bee Aware Flag will be used across the state to clearly identify the locations of honey bee hives that are near crop fields.
These flags will serve as a visible reminder to farmers and pesticide applicators that honey bees and other pollinators are present in the area. All flags should be placed so as to be visible to applicators from both the ground and air, similar to other flags commonly used in Flag the Technology programs around the state.
This voluntary program encourages cooperation and communication between beekeepers and farmers, by considering the careful placement of bee colonies in agricultural areas, and carefully timing applications of necessary pesticides.
Considerations for Beekeepers
The name and emergency contact information for the hive owner should be placed in a highly visible and prominent location in the apiary, as well as being on file at the farm headquarters.
Bee Flag Placement:
All parties should work together to select a prominent location for the Bee Aware Flag that will be visible to applicators from the air or ground.
Farmers and beekeepers should cooperate to select apiary sites that maximize protection to bee hives, while minimizing risk of direct hive exposure to pesticide sprays. Maintain a current and comprehensive list of all apiary locations on the property. This may be particularly important if hives are moved. It may be helpful to mark apiary locations on a map or provide GPS coordinates to show exact locations of the hives on farm property.
Considerations for Farmers
Notification of Applicators:
Farmers should make all employees (or contractual parties) aware of all apiary locations and the associated Bee Aware Flags on the property. Aerial applicators should also be made aware, if necessary.
Timing of Pesticide Applications:
Whenever possible, growers should consider applying pesticides as late as possible in the afternoon, particularly when a crop is in bloom, or to fields that are adjacent to honey bee hive locations.
Applications should only be made when wind conditions will not promote excessive spray drift, and ideally when winds are blowing away from hives.
For specific questions regarding the Arkansas Pollinator Stewardship Program, or to request a flag, contact:
|Download Pollinator Stewardship Brochure||Watch a brief overview of the program from
Arkansas Land & Life 6-19-15.