The Mississippi Beekeepers’ Association (MBA) is probably the oldest agricultural organization in the state, but there is some confusion about the actual starting date. Dr. Everett Ortel (scientist of the USDA Bee Lab in Baton Rouge) reported that the MBA began November 15, 1873 in Jackson, MS. However, the American Bee Journal reported the birth date for MBA as July 26, 1927 after an organizational meeting that occurred at the Mississippi Ag. and Mechan. College (which is now Mississippi State University).
Regardless of the actual beginning date, records of the MBA activities were sparse until the 1950-1960s, and the MBA was not chartered until October 23, 1980. The MBA has always emphasized activities that advanced and protected the interests of beekeepers. Here is an excerpt from “A History of Beekeeping in Mississippi” (1st edition, 2010) describing the primary functions of the MBA:
Its purpose as stated in the constitution, “shall be the advancement and protection of the interests of beekeepers commercially, educationally and socially.” Its charter states its purpose as follows; (1) to promote the art and science of beekeeping, to promote research in the fields of beekeeping and pollination of crops, and to promote agricultural growth; (2) to support such research and growth through practical expertise, and whenever possible, through assistance in securing needed finances to carry on beekeeping research and product promotion; (3) to encourage understanding and working relationships among industry, research and other closely associated agricultural personnel; (4) to serve agriculture through pollination as depicted by the adopted seal and emblem; (5) to establish and maintain educational exhibits at fairs, ag reviews, etc. in order to accomplish the above.
Currently, the MBA consists of over 500 members from at least 12 different local beekeeping clubs throughout the state. There are several smaller groups of beekeepers who meet regularly, and some of these groups are currently seeking formal recognition as an MBA affiliate. Throughout its history MBA has often pushed for funding or legislation to help beekeeping in the state. Most recently, the MBA spearheaded the establishment of an extension-research apiculture position at Mississippi State University that began with the hiring of Dr. Jeff Harris in the summer of 2012. Other regular activities include an annual MBA Convention during October or November of each year, the sponsoring and hosting of beekeeping workshops and short courses, and the regular publication of a newsletter, Bee News & Views.