These 'bee alert' flags alert ground and aerial pesticide applicators of the nearby presence of honeybees.
These 'bee alert' flags alert ground and aerial pesticide applicators of the nearby presence of honeybees.

Mississippi's farmers and beekeepers are working together to protect the state's pollinators through development of the Mississippi Honey Bee Stewardship Program.

The voluntary program is designed to reduce the risk that neighboring row-crop growers apply pesticides near bee yards.

“As this topic has gained attention over the last couple of years, I have been surprised to see how few farmers were aware of the issue. Now that they realize there is a problem, they have seemed more than willing to figure out how to work together,” Mississippi State University Extension row-crop entomologist Angus Catchot said in a news release. “This program will certainly not eliminate all risks, but it will no doubt go a long way to head off future problems with acute bee kills.”

One of the program's components is a unified flagging system that identifies hive locations near fields.The black and yellow striped "bee aware" flags are visible from the ground and from the air and are designed to alert pesticide applicators.

The program has been adopted by the Mississippi Beekeepers Association, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, Mississippi Agricultural Aviation Association, Mississippi Agricultural Consultants Association, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, and the Mississippi State University Extension Service.