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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.