Jennifer Tsuruda, Clemson’s Extension and research bee specialist, works with South Carolina beekeepers to help minimize honeybee exposure to pesticides.
Jennifer Tsuruda, Clemson’s Extension and research bee specialist, works with South Carolina beekeepers to help minimize honeybee exposure to pesticides.

Through a pilot program, Clemson University specialists have brought beekeepers and pesticide applicators together online so they can work together to reduce accidental bee and hive poisonings.

“We’re trying to protect the honeybee. That’s what this is all about,” Brad Cavin, who heads apiary inspections for the Department of Plant Industry, said in a news release. “We want to develop a partnership of farmers, beekeepers and pesticide applicators to identify where bee yards are located.”

About 70 beekeepers statewide have signed up to participate in the voluntary program.

The strategy is simple. Beekeepers indicate where their hives will be and applicators note where they'll be making pesticide applications.

Having the information online makes it readily accessible to both sectors.

The pilot bee program uses a system similar to one adopted last year by the South Carolina Department of Plant Industry to file mobile reports on plant nursery inspections directly from the nursery.

The online Kelly Products Inc. system was adapted to allow beekeepers, farmers and pesticide applicators to match locations of hives and areas that will receive pesticide treatments.

The system is password protected for privacy. Beekeepers can log into the system to load geographic data and see planned applications nearby without anyone other than pesticide applicators seeing the location.

The pilot program will be evaluated to see if it will be effective on a larger scale.

At any given time, about 3,000 beekeepers—most of them part-time—manage 25,000-30,000 honeybee colonies in South Carolina.