HB1293: TRUTH versus FICTION

It’s clear from the February 5th POST on the Texas Beekeepers Association website, that there is a difference between what H.B. 1293 says and what certain members of the TBA hope that it says.

Below illustrates the differences between the hope and the reality

TBA POST February 5th, 2017

REALITY

“The bill seems to be mostly housekeeping. Is that correct?”

There are many housekeeping changes to the existing beekeeping laws, last updated in 1983, to bring it up to the state of beekeeping in 2017. One example is that of “reportable pests.” In the existing law, ANY pest or disease of honeybees is to be reported to the Chief Apiary Inspector. This would include varroa mites, which we all have! The real intent is to make the Chief Apiary Inspector aware of pests and diseases which will have a real impact on beekeeping, such as the Foulbrood diseases or the most recently discussed Australian Sap Beetle, which is now in California.

POSTER OF FEB 5th is misinformed

Chapter 131 was last updated in 2011. Other updates were in 1985, 1989. 1991, 1993 &1997.

Beekeepers are required to rat on their fellow beekeeper.

HB1293 continues to make it a violation of Chapter 131 if a beekeeper does not report a pest or disease that that beekeeper is aware of that his fellow beekeeper’s colony has. So much for beekeepers helping beekeepers.

 

“Will there be a mandate to treat hives if this legislation passes?”
– The only requirement to treat a hive would be if a quarantine is enacted by the Chief Apiary Inspector. This can only be done when the Chief Apiary Inspector has done their due diligence with regard to identification of the pest or disease to be treated. Unlike in the existing law, HB 1293 will give beekeepers the right to appeal any proposed quarantine.

It is assumed that the wording in red italics in
the left hand column was intended to have been written:

“This can only be done when the Chief Apiary Inspector has done his or her due diligence with regard to identification of the pest or disease to be treated.”

NO DUE DILIGENCE REQUIRED

HB1293 does not require any minimum amount of due diligence on the part of the Chief Apiary Inspector. That power to define a deleterious pest and order its destruction is given to a single individual without requiring proof it is deleterious. Further, HB1293 allows this list created by a single individual can be changed and altered on a daily basis at the discretion.

“What are some examples of unwanted species of bees?” The real threat here is from bees that are very different from the bees we keep, Apis mellifera mellifera. An example of unwanted bee species would be Apis mellifera capensis, or the South African Cape bee. These Cape bees can quickly parasitize an Apis mellifera mellifera colony causing great economic harm for the beekeeper. Once established in a colony of another Apis mellifera subspecies, Cape laying workers behave like cancer cells; rapidly reproducing and draining colony resources while offering no benefit to the host. Infected colonies eventually dwindle and die at which point the remaining Cape workers disperse to parasitize new host colonies.

This explanation fails to explain why the wording “Unwanted species of bees” means a species of bees, including a non-Apis species of bees” is needed.

Apis mellifera capensis is Sub-species of Apis mellifera.  Including the term non-Apis species of bees allows the Chief Apiary Inspector to declare native pollinators in competition with Apis mellifera to be declared deleterious.
Examples of non-apis species of bees are bumble bees & mason bees.

“Why are we just now hearing about this
legislation?”
– A subgroup of TBA members have been at work since the November 2015 annual meeting to draft proposed legislation. The work began in earnest in early 2016 when 60 TBA members who volunteered at the 2015 annual meeting, met to begin deliberations. By June of 2016 the group completed a draft of the legislation, however it still remained for legislative counsel to vet the draft and convert it to a form that could be submitted to the 2017 Texas legislature. Legislative counsel completed their work in late 2016 and the bill was finally filed and could be openly discussed in January 2017. Before then there was nothing that could be formally discussed. This was the issue at the November 2016 TBA Annual meeting; the bill was in draft form, awaiting final approval from legislative counsel.

This explanation to the left is written as if though the TBA would have you believe they were under some restraining order
or were disallowed by law from disclosing proposals submitted to legislative counsel.

While it is true that TBA wouldn’t discuss the proposals and even refused to do so at the 2016 TBA conference, this author
can’t help but wonder if the TBA was trying to hide what they knew would be controversial changes.

Author: Bruce

Sideline Beekeeper Founding Member of Save Texas Beekeepers

2 thoughts on “HB1293: TRUTH versus FICTION”

  1. The real issue here is that TBA can’t seem to get anything right…but they continue their steadfast claim to know what is best for beekeepers. They don’t understand that, by their nature, beekeepers are an incredibly independent bunch.

    Consider this: you can get hive components almost anywhere (or make them yourself) and they all fit together ok without any government rules or formal standards. No one dictates that a Langstroth box is 18 1/8″ W x 21 3/4″ D…it just is…that is the way beekeepers are!

    The fact is that the existing law is ridiculous, unenforced and unenforceable. But no one at TBA wants to think it through:
    what it is they are trying to achieve
    how best to do it and (most importantly)
    what are the unintended consequences.
    They just get busy marking up a terrible law without any dishonest or evil intent. “If you don’t know where you are going, don’t act surprised when you get there.”

    TBA and TAIS bumbling aside, any beekeeper that reads the existing law should come to the conclusion that, whatever is in H. B. 1293, it can hardly be worse (here is an easy cut/paste link https://tinyurl.com/TX131) . Then thoughfully read the bill (https://tinyurl.com/TX1293). Be mindful that some of existing code is untouched and some goes away in H. B. 1293 by just citing the section as “repealed”. Why doesn’t TBA create an edit of the existing law with the changes proposed in H. B. 1293. It would be helpful to see it in toto before we “get there”.

    The bill has been filed and little substantive change is likely, so if you start writing or calling legislators, you need to offer specific (minor) changes or just support/oppose the bill. You should cc TBA because they will be testifying in Austin claiming to represent you.
    They are fond of saying that 99.5% of beekeepers support something. Let your voice be heard!!

  2. Is anyone working on their own bill, or modifications to hb1293? The TBA has said privately that they will consider edits.

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