Overview of UT and TDA Apiculture Assistance

The UT Institute of Agriculture and the TN Department of Ag (TDA) work together to support the beekeeping industry in TN. This chart summarizes some of the responsibilities under each agency. Links for county Extension offices and TDA can be found below the chart.

Click HERE to find your county office. *Just click on your county and then “About Us” to get the list of staff – please email your Agriculture and Natural Resources agent(s).

TDA Office of the State Apiarist (Mike Studer) (*For assistance with basic inspections, contact your local beekeeping club to see if they have a local inspector or mentor who can help you. Regional or state-level inspections are required for regulatory services such as permits.) Apiary registration is handled by TDA (not UT) – please send correspondence related to registration to TDA.

TN Ag Enhancement Program (TAEP) This cost-share program supports TN beekeepers who have at least five years of experience and 15 or more hives – beekeeping has challenges but this program is great motivation to try to stick with it and plan to grow your hobby into a production. Honey bees fall under Application B for Producer Diversification. *The application period for 2021-2022 has passed, but you can still check out the website until 2022-2023 application materials come out in August, with applications are due October 1-7, 2022. Questions? Please contact producer.diversification@tn.gov


TDA pesticide information – please call (615) 837-5148 for assistance with a suspected pesticide-related bee kill. Time is of the essence due to the short window of opportunity for an investigation so this is the first call to make.

TDA Food Safety – if you pack or sell more than 150 gallons of honey per year, you must be licensed and inspected by the State of TN as a food manufacturing facility. Contact TDA Consumer and Industry Services Division at (615) 837-5153 for more information.


TN Master Beekeeping Program

Classes are coordinated by the State Apiculturist (Dr. Jennifer Tsuruda) and the State Apiarist (Mike Studer) and put on in cooperation with county Extension offices.

Do not be confused by the name – there are no prerequisites for this Basic Level class and you will learn skills to help you be a successful beekeeper. Please note that if you intend to take the Advanced class in the future, the Basic Level class is a prerequisite. This class is for participants aged 18 and over; younger youth are encouraged to participate in their county Extension 4-H Beekeeping and Entomology Program.


2023 classes are in the works! We recently received information from TDA and are working on the schedule. Please fill out this INTEREST FORM to be informed when the schedule has been finalized and registration is open.

Reminder: the Basic class is a prerequisite for the Advanced class.

When classes are developed, they are posted on this UT Apiculture website and EPP’s Facebook site, as well as shared with those who fill out the Interest Form, county Extension offices, and the TN Beekeepers Association. If you hear talk about classes from others, always check this official website to verify.


Please also consider attending a free, online beekeeping series to continue learning about bees and beekeeping! UT Apiculture is proud to be a part of this collaborative and diverse team! We want to make sure bee clubs and beekeepers do not feel obligated to hold in-person monthly meetings so now beekeepers (and bee enthusiasts) from around the world can tune in and continue their beekeeping education from the safety and comfort of their homes. *Note: this series does not qualify for TAEP.

If Zoom registration is full, you can still watch via the Lawrence County Extension Facebook page (no registration needed – just go to the site a few minutes before 6:30pm Central Time)! Presentations will also be posted on the Facebook site for 2 weeks in case you missed it live or want to watch the presentation again. Please do not take screenshots or copy any slides.


Swarm Season is HERE!

Honey bee colonies reproduce by dividing and swarming. Generally, around 50-75% of the adult bee population and the old queen leave and find a temporary site (often times a tree branch), where they will hang out while some individual bees go scouting for permanent nesting sites. A collective decision is made and the swarm takes flight for the permanent location, where the colony will be established. If you are a homeowner, who sees a cluster of bees, please contact your local beekeeping association to have a local beekeeper collect the swarm. Many of the local beekeeping associations have a swarm catcher list on their websites. You can also try contacting your county Extension office. It is always helpful if you have photos (to confirm they are actually honey bees and not yellowjackets, paper wasps, or another type of stinging insect) and have exact location information.

Did You Know UTK is a Certified Bee Campus?

In March 2020, UTK became a certified Bee Campus, USA. Learn more about what this designation means for the campus and its pollinators!


How to Help & Protect Pollinators – Everyone Can Practice Responsible Stewardship

Establish and maintain habitat for pollinators! Create diverse and clustered plantings that are appropriate for your region – check out the Pollinator Partnership’s Ecoregional Planting Guides for ideas. In TN, check out the UT Gardens in Knoxville, Crossville, and Jackson for inspiration and educational programming – visit often to fully appreciate the diversity of these landscapes and the beneficial insects they support! The UT Gardens in Knoxville has plant tags for some of its plants that are very attractive to pollinators – more information on these plants will be coming soon! Stay tuned!

Maintaining pollinator habitat often involves occasional management of pest plants and insects. Whether you are a beekeeper, a farmer, or a pesticide applicator, you can help in preventing accidental bee kills due to pesticides. Even homeowners can help by spreading the word about this program! TN participates in FieldWatch, a multi-state program that supports communication, collaboration, and cooperation between stakeholders who use or are affected by pesticides. Learn more at the FieldWatch website and make sure the check out the section on resources for videos on how to use this voluntary system. The TN Dept of Ag allows cost-free use of this program for TN stakeholders.

Beekeepers can sign up and register on the beecheck website (one of the programs of FieldWatch). Please note that this is a separate (and voluntary) registry than the mandatory TDA apiary registry and you are not automatically enrolled when you register your apiary with TDA. When you register for beecheck, please use the same email address that you used when you registered your apiary with TDA – this will facilitate and speed up the cross-checking for your beecheck registration to be accepted.


Northern Giant Hornets (Vespa mandarinia)

Please see the WA State Dept of Ag’s website for previous updates and more information on the individuals and nest found near the Canadian border.

Anyone who believes they have seen a northern giant hornet (renamed from Asian giant hornet) is encouraged to email photos to their local Extension agriculture and natural resources agent for identification through UT’s Distance Diagnostics program. So far, NO SUBMISSIONS have been confirmed as northern giant hornets – almost all submissions have been identified as European hornets, yellowjackets, or eastern cicada killers. However, we want to be sure we do not have any northern giant hornets in the area so if you are still unsure after consulting the photos in the links, please email your photos to your Extension office (see below) for identification.

There are many insects in TN that show a resemblance to these hornets. Please see these placards to see some of the visual features of syrphid flies compared to cicada killer wasps and bees – many of these flies are beneficial insects so please refrain from killing them. NCSU’s Plant Disease and Insect Clinic has a post with great photos but please note that each species can vary in size so it is helpful to look at the coloration and markings on the abdomen.


More questions about bees and beekeeping? Contact your county Extension agent for valuable assistance!

Please contact your county Extension agricultural agent – click HERE to find your county office. *Just click on your county and then “About Us” to get the list of staff – please email your Agriculture and Natural Resources agent(s).

Upcoming Events & Recent Happenings

Upcoming events coming soon…currently busy as a bee trying to get the 2023 MBP schedule set!

Recent Happenings

  • Enjoy UT’s Field Days from the comfort of your home! The Milan No-till Field Day is going virtual this year (starting July 23)! EPP’s Dr. Tsuruda and Dr. Stewart have presentations about the value of pollinators and how to protect them from pesticide exposure, and Michael McCord from TN Wildlife Resources Agency talks about opportunities for establishing pollinator habitat (see Tour J). Click on the picture below for more information!
  • Pollinator Week 2020 – EPP Facebook – June 21-28, 2020
  • Great Plains Master Beekeeping Fun Day – June 14, 2020
  • Stay at Home Beekeeping webinar – Learning from Pandemics to Improve Bee Management – April 16, 2020
  • Worcester, MA Beekeepers Association Spring Conference – March 7, 2020
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Services 25th Annual Beekeeping Symposium – Clanton, AL February 1, 2020
  • American Beekeeping Federation Conference & American Bee Research Conference – Schaumburg, IL January 8-11, 2020
    Looking forward to hearing the latest in bee research and beekeeping and sharing a research study conducted in TN!
  • Extension Agent In-service Trainings
    Had a great time working with TN’s Extension agents! We are working on increasing assistance for beekeepers across the state!
  • Entomological Society of America Annual Conference – St. Louis, MO November 8-17-20, 2019
  • Dr. Tsuruda and Dr. Juliana Rangel (Texas A&M) are looking forward to the exciting symposium they have organized on the importance of advocating for research-based information for beekeepers. Great speakers from across North America presenting on topics with common misconceptions in the beekeeping world.