The State Assembly approved legislation by Assembly member Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa) to protect the health of honey bees as a crucial component of California agriculture because honey bees have been dying in great numbers in recent years.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1912 passed the Assembly 61-15 and moves to the State Senate for further review.
"We cannot have a prosperous future for California agriculture without honey bees," says Evans. "We need this commission to preserve the availability of healthy and nutritious food. Nearly a third of the fruit and vegetables that we eat are derived from insect-pollinated plants."
Sponsored by the California Beekeepers Association, AB 1912 would establish the California Apiary Research Commission to identify and educate beekeepers on integrated pest management practices relative to diseases afflicting honey bees, and the improvement of bee colony management practices. The seven-member commission will be funded through fees assessed on bee colonies, not to exceed $1, which must be validated by a referendum among the beekeepers equal to 65% of the bee colonies kept in California.
Colony Collapse Disorder has reduced the nation's bee population by 25% in the past three years. This massive decline in healthy honey bees has created pressures in agricultural sectors that rely on a healthy honey bee population for pollination of their crops.
Honey bees are a critical component of California agriculture, pollinating over 37% of total production. And, 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.
More is at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov.