Jeff Harris is the new Mississippi State University Extension Service apiculture specialist and researcher with the 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. For the past 12 years, Harris has focused his research efforts on breeding honeybees resistant to the Varroa mite, a pest that afflicts and weakens honeybee colonies.
Harris began his work with bees at the age of 8, when he caught his first swarm. 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. It also gave him insight into the commercial side of the beekeeping industry.
While in graduate school, Harris enjoyed working with students and interacting with faculty, something he missed during his career as a USDA researcher.
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.