New California Commission will Protect Honey Bees

Thursday, September 30, 2010

(SACRAMENTO, CA) – The governor signed a bill authored by Assemblymember Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) establishing the California Apiary Research Commission (Commission) tasked with protecting the health of honey bees, which have been dying in alarming numbers in recent years.

“California agriculture cannot function without honey bees,” said Evans.  “Many of the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown by our farmers come from insect-pollinated plants.  We need to protect honey bees in order to preserve the production of healthy and nutritious food in our state.”

Sponsored by the California Beekeepers Association, Assembly Bill (AB) 1912 establishes the Commission to identify and educate beekeepers on integrated pest management practices to reduce honey bee disease, and to improve bee colony management.  The seven-member commission is funded through fees assessed on bee colonies, not to exceed $1, which must be validated by a referendum among the beekeepers equal to either 65% of the bee colonies kept in California or 65% of California beekeepers.  Referendum turnout must be at or above 30%.

Colony Collapse Disorder has reduced the nation's bee population by 25-30% in the past three years.  This massive decline in healthy honey bees has created pressures on farmers who rely on honey bees as pollinators.

Honey bees are a critical component of California agriculture, pollinating over 37% of production.  California beekeepers rank among the top four states producing honey.  The California beekeeping industry provides half of the queen bees, bulk bees, and starter colonies to beekeepers throughout the United States and Canada.

There are 20 agricultural commissions sanctioned by state law in California, which provide a structure for solving problems and collect funds from agribusinesses to support their activities.  They engage in production and marketing activities, including commodity promotion, research, and maintenance of quality standards.

Last year, the governor signed Evans’ AB 1216 which established honey labeling standards in order to protect California consumers from deceptively labeled, adulterated, and potentially less healthy honey products.

Further information about AB 1912 is available at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.