MSU hires beekeeping expert

By The Associated Press

STARKVILLE— Beekeepers in Mississippi will now have help available for an expert.

The Mississippi State University Extension Service has hired Jeff Harris to be as beekeeping expert.

Harris will work at Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Harris previously worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the honeybee breeding laboratory in Baton Rouge, La.

Harris has done research on breeding honeybees resistant to the Varroa mite, a pest that afflicts and weakens honeybee colonies.

“I had an uncle who kept bees, and from the time I was 5, I was learning about them,” he said. “I built up my bee yard until I had about 25 colonies by the time I was in high school.”

Harris worked for a small commercial beekeeper near Montgomery, Ala., through high school and college to pay for tuition. That experience taught him how to raise queens. He said it also gave him insight into the commercial side of the beekeeping industry.

Harris received a bachelor’s degree in physical science from Auburn University, a master’s degree in entomology from Louisiana State University and a Ph.D. in insect physiology from LSU.