The honey bee is the official state agricultural insect. Honey bees perform a pollination function that is essential to the propagation of many species of plants in Tennessee. The mission of the Apiary program is to protect this valuable resource. The Tennessee Department of Agriculture maintains beekeeper registration files, works through the Tennessee Agricultural Enhancement Program to offer cost share opportunities and performs collaborative research and educational seminars with the University of Tennessee.
Healthy productive colonies of bees not only produce more honey, they also provide better pollination for our nations food supply. Proper pollination yields larger, more uniform shaped, marketable fruits and vegetables.
To receive apiary applications or a pollination list by mail, or for more in-depth information, contact Mike Studer, State Apiarist, at (615) 837-5342 or Mike.Studer@tn.gov.
Honey Bees for Pollination
The Pollination list is available so that growers can find beekeepers who will supply their colonies to pollinate crops. Beekeepers and growers should prepare a pollination contract to understand what is expected from both parties. On the registration form, a sentence toward the bottom reads, “Would you like to rent your bees for pollination of crops?” If you answer “No,” your name will not appear on the Pollination list. If you answer “Yes,” your name, address, county, telephone number, and the number of colonies you have available will appear on the Pollination list. A grower may request a list of beekeepers willing to provide honeybee colonies for pollination by emailing Mike.Studer@tn.gov. This reflects the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's efforts to match beekeepers and fruit and vegetable growers together for their mutual benefit.
Grants for Local Area Apiary Inspectors
Since 1995, the Department of Agriculture has offered grants to local beekeeper associations for the inspection of honeybee colonies. Grant funds are used to pay bee inspectors selected by their association who are willing and qualified to inspect honeybee colonies in their geographical area. Tennessee has allocated $22,050 to be divided among local associations that request grants.
A grant is obtained by completing a grant contract provided by TDA and mailing it to the State Apiarist at the Consumer and Industry Services Division, 436 Hogan Road, Nashville, TN 37220.
County or area beekeeping associations interested in applying for an Apiary Inspection grant should contact the State Apiarist at (615) 837-5342 or Mike.Studer@tn.gov. A list with the names and telephone numbers of the local inspectors working under the grants will be available by contacting the local association once the grants are awarded.
Pollinator Habitat Program
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture is a collaborator in the state’s Pollinator Habitat Program to protect pollinators across Tennessee. The Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Beautification Division leads the Partners for Pollinators. In addition to TDA, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and Tennessee State Parks work with TDOT on the initiative. Find out more at the Partners for Pollinators website at tnpollinators.org.
Tennessee's Wild Side: Urban Bees