Information for Beekeepers

What can beekeepers do to manage pesticide risks to honey bees in citrus?

Relationships, Communication and Information Exchange

  • Develop and maintain one-on-one communications with citrus growers who have groves in which you would like to work your bees.
  • Work with growers to reach written agreements providing permission to place hives in groves and including provisions that address:
    •  circumstances under which the grower will be free of liability
    •  the number of hives
    •  how hives and bee yards will be marked by the beekeeper as required by law and to include any contact information requested by the grower
    • where hives will be placed so that they will not interfere with grove management and to reduce the likelihood of exposure of hives to pesticides
    • the duration of stay for the hives; identify a window during bloom when pesticide exposure is least likely.  Please see IFAS Bloom Determination Document [Adobe PDF Document 213.33 KB].
    • how the grower will provide a list of pesticides products intended to be used while hives are in the grove, if requested
    • how the grower will communicate plans to apply pesticides that may involve relocation of bee hives, if requested
    • identification of temporary holding areas, if available, where hives may be relocated during pesticide applications  
    • the  beekeeper’s liability insurance ($1 million is common coverage)
    • the best means to quickly contact one another if urgent issues arise.
  • Stay in touch with the grower--clear and regular communication is the best way to avoid pesticide problems.
  • Beekeepers should advise the grower immediately if they observe bee kills or any unusual bee conditions.
  • Do not place bees in citrus without a written agreement to do so from the grower.
  • When granted permission to keep hives in a grove, do not “sublet” and allow other beekeepers to bring in their hives.
  • Do not assume that because you’ve worked with a grower before, you can bring your hives in again without written permission. 
  • Keep the grower informed of hive locations, status, concerns and be willing to remove hives promptly if the need arises.
  • Follow regulations to register as a beekeeper with FDACS Division of Plant Industry (DPI).
  • Register hive locations with the FDACS-DPI “Bee Locator” online map.  Ensure that the information is accurate and kept current.  Also, you can use the website to locate citrus and alternative bee forage. 
  • Contact Citrus Health Management Area (CHMA) captains to request updates on spray schedules and be sure to confirm application schedules with the individual grower/applicator where your bees will be working.
  • Communicate with fellow beekeepers working in your area to share information, facilitate communication with grove operators, encourage adoption of recommendations, facilitate movement of hives, and identify holding locations for temporary foraging.
  • Be a good partner with growers--be flexible and work to develop a long-standing relationship.
  • Reward growers who work with you-- consider financial remuneration or in-kind rewards.
  • As you begin to bring your hives to Florida, re-visit this website to check for updates;
  • See further details on citrus greening.
What can beekeepers do to manage pesticide risks to honey bees when treating hives?

Hive Management

  • Adopt IPM practices to control hive pests and follow pesticide label directions for use.
  • When treating hives for pests, use only pesticide products that are labeled for that use pattern. DO NOT treat hives with pesticide products that are not approved for this use pattern.
  • When using pesticide products approved for use within beehives to control pests, obey all instructions and restrictions present on the pesticide product labels.
  • Follow management recommendations developed by FDACS-DPI and IFAS.
  • Place hives no sooner than abundant early bloom and remove promptly when abundant bloom ends.  It is important to avoid periods when grove pest management activities may be required.
  • Keep hives ready to relocate quickly and have a plan of how and where to move them.
  • Monitor hives frequently to assure bee needs are met.

Florida Apiary/Citrus Industry and Alternate Bee Forage - Mapping Service

The Department has developed an online map providing information to beekeepers and citrus growers. Beekeepers can identify citrus acreage and voluntarily provide the locations of their apiaries, facilitating communication with nearby citrus growers (e.g., pesticide applications). The map also provides locations of alternate bee forage habitat. For growers, the map provides contact information for apiaries registered via the online map.

This interactive online map includes the following:

  • Locations (to one square mile) and beekeeper contact information of voluntarily registered apiaries
  • Commercial citrus groves, in general;
  • Commercial citrus groves where all of the trees are 1-5 years old (planted since 2007).  Some of these areas may be treated with soil applied neonicotinoids that could pose risks to foraging bees if citrus blooms are present (note: significant bloom occurs in trees 3-5 years old);
  • Boundaries of Citrus Health Management Areas (CHMAs);
  • Alternative bee forage
Soil-Applied Neonicotinoids

The online map provides the location of commercial citrus groves for both predominantly mature (green) and reset (red) citrus groves (i.e., planted in their entirety after 2007). Trees in these reset blocks can range from 1-5 years old.  Reset trees that are 3-5 years old can bloom and may pose risks to foraging bees if they were treated with soil-applied neonicotinoids prior to blooming.

Please be aware that many young citrus resets are not planted as solid zones and may be present in groves depicted in green on the map.  In these mixed blocks, as the relative number of trees that are 3-5 years old increases, the potential for risks to bees from exposure to soil-applied neonicotinoids in nectar may also increase.

Alternative Forage

The online map also provides alternative bee forage areas derived from Florida Cooperative Land Cover Map, Version 2.3 (FNAI 2012).  Habitat was selected based on habitat descriptions found in the Guide to the Natural Communities of Florida 2010 Edition.  Major honey bee nectar plants (Sanford 2003) and their bloom period are listed below:

Citrus February - April
Gallberry March - May
Ogeechee Tupelo* April - May
Saw Palmetto April - July
Cabbage Palm June - July
Black Mangrove June - July
Melaleuca# August (variable)
Brazilian Peppers# August - October

*North Florida Only
#Invasive exotic plant

Credits:

Sanford MT. Beekeeping:  Florida Bee Botany, CIR 686 Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.  May 1988.  Revised March 2003.  http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/honeybee/extension/Beekeeping%20-%20Florida%20Bee%20Botany.pdf [Adobe PDF Document]

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). 2010. Guideline to the Natural Communities of Florida:  2010 edition.  Florida Natural Areas Inventory, Tallahassee, Florida.  http://www.fnai.org/naturalcommguide.cfm

FLCC Codes from the Florida Land Cover Classification System (FLCS):  http://myfwc.com/research/gis/data-maps/terrestrial/fl-land-cover-classification/

Florida Natural Areas Inventory (FNAI). 2012.  Florida Cooperative Land Cover Map, Version 2.3.  Tallahassee, Florida.  http://www.fnai.org/LandCover.cfm

For further information on measures that can be taken to protect pollinators from the hazards of pesticides, please visit the following links: 

For questions about managing hives, or to report a bee incident, contact your local apiary inspector available through the following link: