Texas Beekeepers Association Board Backs Away from House Bill 1293

The following is taken from the Texas Beekeepers Association Website.
To View original post, goto website -> http://texasbeekeepers.org/cancellation-hb-1293/

Cancellation of HB 1293

TBA members and fellow beekeepers,

Your TBA board and others have worked diligently for the last months, and in some cases years, to draft legislation to update the beekeeping laws in Texas. We want to inform all of you of the status of HB 1293, the bill proposing changes to Chapter 131 of the Texas Agricultural Code.

After much discussion, the TBA board chose to not proceed with HB 1293 for this legislative session. This was not an easy decision to make. TBA is still committed to updating the bee laws in Texas, but that update will have to wait until the 2019 legislative session.

There are three main reasons that the TBA board decided to not proceed with the legislation this year:

  1. Communication/Involvement – TBA has worked on HB 1293, and its predecessor, for 4 years. We communicated to our members the reasons for writing the legislation as we did and invited TBA members to participate in the development of the proposed legislation. However, we did not communicate our message clearly enough to all Texas beekeepers. Some individuals reported feeling that TBA had poorly communicated to them, or did not solicit their input, so they opposed the bill on those grounds. It is a daunting task to gather input and to communicate with thousands of beekeepers across the state to the extent that everyone feels involved, represented, and routinely updated.
  1. Wording – Some individuals, both inside and outside of our membership, opposed the bill because of the way specific sections were worded. Many individuals offered good suggestions. TBA absolutely heard all of the input, and much will be incorporated into the development process for the 2019 legislative session. However, the time required to communicate, incorporate, and then legislatively write the changes to HB 1293 would have put us beyond the deadlines for the 2017 legislative session, so we stopped the process.
  1. Oversight – Opinions on what bee laws should look like in Texas vary greatly. HB 1293, as written, is an improvement over the existing Section 131 laws. It would have given Texas beekeepers an appeal process if they disagreed with the Chief Apiary Inspector on quarantines. The main issue here was whether the Texas Apiary Inspection Service needed a legislatively appointed oversight board to review their decisions. A change of this magnitude to HB 1293, without knowing all the details and ramifications of such a change, could not be properly handled in the short time remaining in this legislative session. Hence, we stopped the process so that all beekeepers could properly consider whether to incorporate an oversight board into the Section 131 laws and if yes, what its powers and oversight of the Chief Apiary Inspector would be.

TBA’s desire and the only reason for TBA suggesting changes to Section 131 is to improve the beekeeping industry in Texas, and thus protect our industry and our bees. Unfortunately, HB 1293, in its current form, is not the right change. We know that our current law is not working well for us and that it could be very oppressive to all scales of beekeepers if the letter of the law were strictly enforced. We highly encourage all of you to read the Texas Agriculture Code Chapter 131 to understand what the current requirements are and then to comply with them. Continue your involvement with TBA. Watch your inbox, read the TBA Journal, and attend TBA meetings as, together, we communicate about the next steps in this process.

We are determined to update the beekeeping laws in Texas. We will use the time between now and the next legislative session to address the issues listed above and any others you want to bring forth. You have our commitment to do so.

Thank you so much for your support. We wish you a fantastic year of beekeeping as the honey flow begins in Texas!

Best regards,
The TBA Board

Communicating with Local Clubs about 1293

Monday evening, March 13th, I gave a presentation on HB 1293 to members of Metro Beekeepers Association in Fort Worth. In an effort to become well informed on the pros & cons of HB 1293, Metro had scheduled for Texas Beekeepers Association Area Director Roger Farr to present TBA’s case in support and for me to speak about Save Texas Beekeepers’ opposition. Unfortunately, I was the only speaker to actually attend.

A little background… Mr. Farr was chair of the TBA committee that wrote and submitted the proposals to the Texas Legislature that became HB 1293. In early February, just after bill introduction, I approached Mr. Farr with concerns about certain aspects of the bill and asked how we could work to address those concerns.  Although he admitted the bill might not be perfect, his response was that amendments were not an option; he told me I would have to either support it or oppose it as written.

In mid February, at the TBA winter “delegates” meeting at the Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab in Bryan, an attempt was again made to address concerns about HB 1293.  During that meeting Mr. Farr tried to dispel opposition by presenting a notable speech in which he seemed to draw parallels between the conflict over this bill and Cain and Abel, slavery, and WWII-era Europe. Needless to say, I was prepared for an interesting dialogue presenting back-to-back with Mr. Farr in Fort Worth.  Of course, life being life, what happened was the one thing I wasn’t prepared for at all.  TBA’s representative surprised us all by simply not showing up.

Keep in mind that Metro Beekeepers is a local club that is a member organization with TBA, with many members who are individual members of TBA as well. This was a room full of beekeepers wanting, expecting, and deserving an explanation from TBA about what has been done representing “all Texas beekeepers and local beekeeping associations,” according to the claim on the front of the TBA website.

As the only speaker on the topic that night I tried to present a balanced and factual picture of the situation. I am strongly opposed to HB 1293 as filed, but I’ve been a proud and enthusiastic member of TBA until this issue. I believe TBA is made up of good individuals who care about Texas beekeeping, and I said as much during my presentation.  As a TBA member I was put in the awkward position of attempting to reconcile what I believe are good intentions with a very unfortunate scenario, because underneath it all, the facts just don’t look good: TBA claims to represent all beekeepers in Texas, but the association hasn’t been communicating well even with its own members. TBA says it wants to do better at communicating with members, but Monday’s no-show was not at all indicative of that. I like and respect the TBA board, but that doesn’t help me understand or explain how this is being handled by the organization.

Judging from the responses on savetexasbeekeepers.org and social media sites, it seems many Texas beekeepers feel this way. People are not happy with the situation, and I understand why.  Conversing with attendees at Metro after my presentation was eye-opening. One member told me that he feels betrayed by TBA. One was asking for the names of the individuals on the TBA committee, saying that someone should have to answer for HB 1293. One man kept apologizing for getting passionate in discussion with me, saying that he had come prepared to vent at someone from TBA and that it was hard to adjust to there not being a TBA representative in attendance.

At one point I was very hopeful about communicative effort towards productive amendments.  At this time, those efforts are not proceeding as quickly or as cooperatively as we were led to expect.  Though I haven’t given up hope, I am feeling discouraged, disheartened, and disappointed.

I’ve given presentations on HB 1293 at several local beekeeping clubs now.  If your association would like a presentation from us on the topic please let us know.

First Steps Towards Amending 1293

On Monday the sponsors of this site met with Chairman King’s staff, Judith McGeary of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, board members of the Texas Beekeepers Association, and other concerned beekeepers at the Capitol and worked on a proposal to amend House Bill 1293. We had a constructive meeting and reached an agreement, in principle, on amendments that address the major issues that led to our opposition of this bill.

We are still working to turn Monday’s consensus into actual amendment language that everyone can agree on, and we can’t say anything especially decisive at the moment. We are still opposed to the bill as it is currently filed, but we have hopes that it can be amended in such a way that we can support it as a positive step forwards.

I want to specifically thank Judith from the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance for her help in this matter; FARFA is a great organization that is having a positive impact and could use your support. They are working on some other bills this session that are likely to matter to beekeepers, and we hope to have some more info for you soon on these issues. I also want to say that I very much appreciate the TBA board members who are working with us on amendments… we’ve had some differences in opinion on this bill, but I do believe these people are doing their best to improve the situation for beekeepers in our state, and I do appreciate them for that.

If you are reading this and are not yet signed up for updates from this blog please consider subscribing so that we can keep you up to date as things progress. We will need to take additional action to support or oppose the wording of amendments once they are filed, and we appreciate your help.

Should an Enforcement Agency Define What a Violation Is?

Imagine you are pulled over by a police officer for speeding and that police officer is allowed to decide what the speed limit is between the time he gets out of his car and issues you a citation.  Whether or not this was the intention of  Texas Beekeepers Association in their proposals to amend Chapter 131 of the Agriculture Code,  it’s analogous to a scenario allowed under House Bill 1293.

Section 25 of House Bill 1293 changes Section 131.121  of Chapter 131 to read, “A person commits an offense (Class C Misdemeanor) if the person fails to report reportable diseases, reportable pests, or unwanted species of bees,……. sells, offers for sale, barters, gives away, ships, or distributes honey or pollen taken from a colony of bees that has a reportable disease or a colony of bees that contains a reportable pest;”  Further language is changed under HB 1293 that allows the Chief Apiary Inspector, the person that enforces Chapter 131, sole discretion in determining what is a “reportable pest”.

Section 10 of House Bill 1293 changes Section 131.023 to read, “…. a person may not sell or offer for sale a queen bee and attendant bees, package bees, colonies, nuclei, or queen cells in this state unless the bees are accompanied by a certificate of inspection that certifies that the bees are apparently free from disease and pests based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the sale.  Again in HB1293 language is changed under HB 1293 that allows the Chief Apiary Inspector sole discretion in determining what is a reportable pest.

This author prefers a system whereby there is a division between those that write regulations and those that enforce them.

HB1293 Opponents Deliver a List of Issues and Solutions to Bill Sponsor’s Office

HB 1293 – Issues and Solutions

The Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance has been in discussions with its members and other beekeepers to identify the core concerns with HB 1293, and possible solutions to those concerns.

While everyone agrees that Chapter 131 needs to be revised, several of the provision of HB 1293 will create new problems or exacerbate existing ones.

Issue #1: Accountability. The CAI has broad powers, and HB 1293 expands those. Yet despite having essentially regulatory powers, the CAI is not a regulatory officer nor within the jurisdiction of a regulator agency. Decisions to define unwanted pests and disease, or to order a quarantine or destruction of hives, need review by experts and stakeholders. Even absent abuse, the current structure does not provide representation for the wide range of people affected by the bee industry.

  • Recommendation #1a: Create a Honey Bee Advisory Board with 7-9 members, including representatives of large-scale commercial beekeepers, small-scale commercial beekeepers, hobby beekeepers, farming, wildlife, and academia. This board would meet at least annually to set TAIS policy and regulatory objectives and initiate rule-making, recommend or endorse specific TAIS actions in response to the detection of new pests or disease, and approve extraordinary actions (seize and destroy, order implementation of colony management practices, quarantine, etc.). The Board would thus set boundaries on the CAI’s discretion.
  • Recommendation #1b: Expand appeal procedures to cover not just quarantines, but also other decisions or actions affecting property rights, such as seizure, destruction, or required treatment.
  • Recommendation #1c: Direct the new Board to include consideration of the feral honey bee population, and the impact of that population on the probable efficacy of pest or disease control, eradication or mitigation measures.
  • Recommendation #1e: Remove any provisions in HB 1293 that refer to the CAI determining what diseases or pests are subject to regulation of penalties. Change all references to “pests” or “diseases” to “reportable pests” or “reportable diseases” as designated by the new Board. If the new Board is not established in 2017 legislation, then the designations could be linked to USDA APHIS determinations.

Issue #2: Negative impact on small to medium scale operations: The ability of the CAI to require inspections, combined with the directive to recover costs, are likely to result in competitive disadvantage.

  • Recommendation #2a: Establish a tiered or sliding scale structure for fees based on colony count or other equitable measure.
  • Recommendation #2b: Retain the option to self-certify via affidavit.

Issue #3: The bill places all bees, both native and domestic, including bumble bees, under the authority of the CAI.

  • Recommendation #3: Change the definition of bee so as not to extend authority to native bee species. (If no one believes that the CAI would declare native bees as unwanted, then there should be no objection to removing that power.)

Issue #4: Mandatory registration will not be acceptable to many people, and the requirement will lead to widespread noncompliance. In addition, to try to avoid impacting micro-beekeepers with the new mandatory requirement, the bill changed the provision for registration to 25 hives; but this could have an unintended impact on property tax valuation because many county appraisal districts have used the current apiary registration definition of 6 hives as a starting point for their guidelines.

  • Recommendation #4: Remove the mandatory registration requirement and maintain the current definitions of apiary and beekeeper. A voluntary registration could be established that would allow notification of beekeepers when there is an issue of concern (disease, pests, or pesticide overspray) in their areas, providing benefits that would encourage registration.

Issue #5: The bill expands the failure of a beekeeper to report endemic diseases and pests in any colony that he is aware of, to be a Class C Misdemeanor. If read strictly, this requires reporting on fellow beekeepers. Whether the CAI enforces it this way or not, the possibility of it will discourage beekeepers, especially newcomers, from seeking help and advice from more experienced people.

  • Recommendation #5: Clarify the language so as to require people to notify the CAI of reportable diseases in their own hives. Change the failure to do so to a civil penalty only.

Issue #6: The bill requires Texas queen and package bee suppliers to pay for certificate of inspection, though out-of-state bee suppliers have no such requirement.

  • Recommendation #6: Remove the requirement of certificate of inspection for intrastate sales and delivery.

Issue #7: The regulations on “equipment” do not specify used equipment, yet there is no risk of spreading disease through new equipment.

  • Recommendation #7: Amend the definition of “equipment” to “used equipment,” and then amend the requirements to apply to used equipment. Proposed definition: “’Used Beekeeping Equipment’ means hives, supers, frames, veils, gloves, tools, machines, vacuums, or other devices for the handling and manipulation of bees, honey, pollen, wax, or hives, including storage or transporting containers for pollen, honey, or wax or other apiary supplies used in the operation of an apiary or honey house and that have previously been used to contain, manipulate, transport, house or process colonies, hives, bees, bee colonies, bee products or their unpasteurized by products.”

In cooperation with:
Bruce Bonnett
Ryan Giesecke
Dennis Gray
Tanya Phillips
Chuck Reburn

Historic Bee Supplier, BeeWeaver, Takes a Stand on HB1293

To View this message in its entirety go to BeeWeaver Discusses HB1293

FROM BEEWEAVER APIARIES

Dear All,

We don’t typically solicit fellow beekeepers and/or customers to support or oppose specific political positions or urge them to contact their representatives and speak out on proposed legislation, but we’ve learned of a bill that has been introduced in the current Texas legislative session that directly affects beekeepers – so we’re alerting you to that development and expressing our deep concern with the potential impact of this bill as proposed.

We encourage you to acquaint yourselves with HB 1293. There is a claim by some that this is bill was endorsed by the Texas Beekeepers Association, when in fact the TBA Board never voted to approve the bill or the amended statutory language prior to bill’s introduction.  More than that, the bill’s proponents adamantly refused to share the proposed language of the bill with the TBA membership at the last annual meeting in November, 2016, though promised to do so before the bill was introduced.  That promised public notice never occurred either. The TBA is supposed to be a democratic organization, but this process was not democratic and violated the TBA’s own governance procedures. For these reasons alone this bill, as written, should be defeated.

More than that, while we recognize that the Texas Bee Law needs to be changed, the language in HB 1293 is substantively flawed, so much so that we believe it must be amended extensively, or else defeated.

You can find documents discussing HB 1293, developed by a group that has emerged in opposition to HB 1293, at savetexasbeekeepers.org, You will find a document showing you why the bill is problematic, and an outline of what might be done to rectify the current problems with the Bee Law as written and fix HB 1293, too. We urge you take time to reflect on this pending legislation.  If you find these developments and this legislation as alarming and objectionable as we do, then please contact your Texas State Representative and Texas Senator, and speak out in opposition to HB 1293 as currently written.

For Bees and their Keepers,
Laura & Danny Weaver
BeeWeaver Apiaries

The Failure of Texas Ag Code Chapter 131

 

Texas Ag Code Chapter 131 sets out provisions for regulating Bees and Honey. This section is characterized by a register-inspect-quarantine-treat/destroy regime that has failed Texas Beekeepers from the start.

Registration under current law is voluntary and free. Registration is currently used for appearing “official” in two regards. First, land owners are frequently required to register the hives on their land in order to establish ag valuation for ad valorum property taxes. The registration is one way in which county appraisal districts can defer to a state agency, in this case Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) for the purpose of recognition of ag use of properties. Second, the registration is required for Texas Master Beekeeper Candidates for official recognition of their activities in beekeeping. Both uses are somewhat arbitrary.

Bee inspections in Texas are focused on disease and pest identification and management. Historically, inspectors usually focused, as they should, on commercial operations that sell queens, packages or nucs, and commercial pollinators – those perceived as having a high risk to vector disease. For instance, large shipments of bees from out of state arrive on trucks in quantities of approximately 400 each. Their potential to vector disease results from 1) their high numbers, and 2) their migratory nature and concomitant exposure to diseases from a variety of ecologies across the entire continent. Nevertheless, these migratory, commercial pollinators currently vector very little disease into the state as their hives are heavily and frequently treated for disease and pests.

Resident beekeepers are occasionally inspected and the results are similar to migratory operators. Economic realities force these operators to carefully monitor and treat their hives.

Hobby beekeepers are seldom inspected as part of the state inspection program, but any beekeeper may request an inspection. These requested inspections require a fee (currently $75) and the results are dramatically higher levels of disease and pests. According to TAIS, for example, the average mite counts for commercial or sideliner operations is 1.8-1.9 mites per hundred bees. The same metric for hobby beekeepers was 5.7, approximately 3 times the level of professional beekeepers.

The mere idea of a quarantine of honey bees is absurd. Bees can not be confined to a geographic area of course, because they’re free to fly. When they forage they will encounter and/or spread whatever diseases or communicable pests that are present in the local ecology. It is also pointless to “quarantine” managed bees when they are surrounded by high densities of feral colonies that will vector any disease or pest around the managed colony quarantine.

This point can not be over emphasized. A leading entomologist at Texas A&M University has written, “As someone who has worked with invasive species my entire career, I can’t think of a single instance where a quarantine stopped the spread of any invasive insect or plant.” He also recognized that feral bees play a critical role in vectoring any pest or disease around “quarantined” managed colonies. “…when Africanized bees first were detected in the State I would have argued vehemently against any quarantine effort. It would not stop Africanized bees and it would only waste resources [and]…feral populations of bees in some parts of the state are more dominant than managed bees.” This was exactly what happened with Africanized bees in Texas. These costly and damaging measures must be considered in the context of efficacy, cost to beekeepers, and benefit to the state.

The bee inspector also has the power to order treatment or destruction of hives, and this authority goes hand-in-hand with quarantines. Despite inspector-ordered destruction of thousands of colonies, this dangerous and economically devastating measure has never stopped the spread of invasive honey bee pests such as varroa and tracheal mites. Occasionally American Foulbrood (AFB), a highly transmissible bacterial infection of honey bees is identified and a hive ordered destroyed by inspectors. The apiary is quarantined and reinspected after treatment. The result of this regime, combined with the economic realities of commercial beekeepers, is that AFB cases are carefully monitored and treated before an inspector can make such a discovery. Professional beekeepers, like every other animal husbandry activity, are perfectly capable to monitoring and treating these routine disease cases without the state supervision. Abandoned hives infected with AFB may warrant a bee inspector’s intervention, but feral colonies remain impossible to inspect, treat, or destroy. The inevitable result is that AFB will persist in the honey bee population.

Current law authorizing the seizure and destruction of hives has been abused egregiously in the past. A former Chief Apiary Inspector ordered thousands of hives destroyed in a futile effort, justified by the inspector as necessary to keep Varroa mites out of Texas. A subsequent quarantine imposed by a former bee inspector when a beekeeper advised the inspector of the presence of small hive beetles in Texas caused economic damage to the beekeeper who was forced to identify his live bee products (nucs and packages) as produced in a SHB infested apiary. Did this quarantine and destruction of bees protect Texas from SHB or Varroa? Of course not. They are ubiquitous now as they were then. Was the law applied equally to all beekeepers found with SHB or Varroa? No. Was the declaration of SHB as a dangerous pest or the declaration of a quarantine reviewed by any expert panel? Was it deleterious to beekeeping in Texas? Are we still issuing quarantines for this pest? No, no, no.

The regime of register-inspect-quarantine-destroy has failed for every imaginable pest in the past, and, according to experts, it is likely to fail for every pest in the future. No disease or pest of the honey bee has been halted or contained in Texas. As we’ve already seen, SHB are everywhere in Texas. African Honey bees spread their influence across the greater portion of the entire state, stopped only by climate/ecology in some regions. The Varroa mite is in every colony in North America, managed or feral. Nosema is common in Texas. Section 131 has failed in each of these introductions.

HB 1293 seeks to expand upon this complete failure with more registration, more inspection, and additional authority to declare quarantines and destruction. Along the way, the bill adds non-honey bees to the authority of an ag inspector.

The declaration of disease and pest should be made by experts after consideration of complicated factors in ecology. A single state official should not possess the power to destroy a business. As with the case of SHB, a single inspector may be badly wrong in his determination. HB 1293 does not provide such oversight by experts or accountability of the Chief Inspector.

The mission statement of TAIS says

“The mission of the Texas Apiary Inspection Service is to safeguard the apiary industry of Texas through the application of science-based regulations, educational opportunities and open communication with the industry.”

HB 1293 does not reflect science-based regulations. It builds upon decades of failed policy, while adding costs and interference to beekeeping in Texas.

Could Texas Ag Code adversely affect Native Bees?

Texas House Representative Tracy O. King of Uvalde County has introduced a bill in the current legislative session that affects changes to the portion of the Texas Agriculture Code that regulates beekeeping.  The proposed changes were filed on January 25 of this year in the form of House Bill 1293.

I believe that H.B. 1293 has the potential to have a significant negative impact on Texas native bee species.

You wouldn’t expect a revision to the state agricultural code on beekeeping to have an adverse impact on pollinators. In fact, most beekeepers are quick to tell you that what’s good for honey bees is good for native bees, and vice versa. They’re right… and yet this bill seems to imply otherwise.

Section 131.001, subdivision 17, defines “Unwanted species of bees” as “a species of bees, including a non-Apis species of bees, that is considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector and that must be reported under Section 131.025.”

First off, unwanted bees? I’m sure that surprises most of us. We probably know that many US bee species are facing major difficulties. Seven Hawaiian species made the endangered list last year. The protected status of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has already made headlines repeatedly in 2017. Nesting site loss, limited forage availability, monoculture farming, agricultural insecticide usage, mosquito spraying, climate change… all of this is hitting our native pollinators, and hitting them hard. We need to preserve our native bees.

Well, before we go any further, let’s just talk for a minute about the implications of “non-Apis” in this bill. The genus Apis includes all species and subspecies of the honey bees, and is placed under Texas Apiary Inspection Service jurisdiction by the definition of “bee” (Section 131.001 subdivision 4). So between these two definitions every single bee in Texas is under the jurisdiction of a department responsible for regulating and safeguarding the keeping of honey bees. All of our native bees are “non-Apis species of bees”. Bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, digger bees, cactus bees, squash bees, longhorned bees, cuckoo bees, sunflower bees… all under Texas Apiary (root: Apis) Inspection Service control. How odd.

So what did the bill intend to address with the “unwanted species of bees” definition? I’ve spoken with members of the committee who worked on this bill before it went to Mr. King’s office. They say this is intended to address the Cape Bee, a honey bee from South Africa with a tendency to be parasitic on other honey bee hives. Not only is the Cape Bee an Apis species, but it’s actually a subspecies of the Western Honey Bee… as such, it could not be listed as an unwanted species without disallowing all of the honey bees in Texas. I’ve spoken with a TAIS official who confirmed this. The only conceivable positive use of this definition would be to attempt to prevent the influx of some invasive non-Apis bee species into Texas… my understanding is that there is no cause to think any such situation is likely. Even if it were, why would we expect invasive species issues to be regulated by the agency that is responsible for the agricultural keeping of honey bees? There is no reason to think an invasive species of non-Apis bee would have any more impact on beekeeping than our native species do.

Are Texas native bee species “deleterious” to the keeping of honey bees? Common sense would say no. Every beekeeper you ask will say no. But regulatory measures should be written to be able to address the worst case scenario. In conservation situations we frequently refer to this less-than-optimistic mindset as the precautionary principle. So the question is, if someone wanted to use the wording in this bill and make the legal argument that our native bees are deleterious to apiculture, could they? Unfortunately, I’m concerned the answer may be yes. On a most obvious level, bees do compete for floral resources; there is a limited amount of pollen and nectar to gather. What is picked up by one bee is not there for the next. I commonly hear people with an interest in preserving our native bees mention this argument as a downside to the presence of the non-native honey bee. It’s not crazy to think someone might attempt to apply this reasoning in reverse.

Also, pest and disease problems in bee populations are known to spread from their primary hosts to other species kept in close proximity. Traditionally American beekeepers battled many pests and diseases in their hives that had long been problems for Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee. In recent years we’ve battled more virulent opponents as pests and diseases have jumped species boundaries in search of new hosts. Varroa mites have plagued the beekeeping industry since they crossed to our bees from their primary host in Asia. If you ask the TAIS what they fear will be the next big pest issue in American beekeeping, they’ll probably tell you Tropilaelaps parasites… also jumping from another primary bee host to Apis mellifera hives in other parts of the world as we speak. Nosema diseases have crossed species lines as well. Our natives may be less likely than some to share diseases with honey bees, but deformed wing virus does exist in both honey bee and bumble bee populations. Bumble bees are the primary host for Nosema bombi, which is transmitted via shared floral resources but has not yet shown any ability to spread to honey bees. Hopefully the transmission of diseases and pests between these species will never be a concern, but as more American beekeepers get into management of mason bees, leafcutter bees, and bumble bees, it’s not ridiculous to be concerned that crossover issues may occur in both directions. I would hope that the preservation of our native species would always be a top priority as we move forward, and it’s scary to imagine a future where there’s even the slightest hint of a possibility that native species would be destroyed or eradicated (Section 131.022) due to some negative impact or perceived threat to the keeping of honey bees.

Even if you are willing to assume that these bees actually being listed as deleterious is simply a scenario beyond reason and beyond possibility I’m concerned that there’s a negative impact from the wording in this bill. It could be read by uninformed new beekeepers who will see the implication that non-Apis species are unwanted, even if they haven’t been listed as such. This wording solves no known problem; it accomplishes nothing other than sitting there looking bad in print. It’s a black eye to Texas beekeeping to have “unwanted bees” in our ag code, especially with “non-Apis” in the definition. The beekeepers around me care intensely about native pollinator preservation, and this makes us all look like we don’t.

Chapter 131 Comparison With & Without H.B. 1293

Download a PDF version of this POST

Current
Texas Ag Code Chapter 131
Chapter 131
With H.B. 1293 Implementation
SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS <unchanged>
Sec. 131.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: <unchanged>
(1) “Abandoned apiary, equipment, or bees” means an apiary, equipment, or a colony of bees that is not regularlymaintained or attended in accordance with this chapter or rules orquarantines adopted under this chapter. <unchanged>
(2) “Apiary” means a place where six or more colonies of bees or nuclei of bees are kept. (2) “Apiary” means a place where colonies of bees or nuclei of bees are kept.
(3) “Beekeeper” means a person who owns, leases, or manages one or more colonies of bees for pollination or the production of honey, beeswax, or other by-products, either for personal or commercial use. (3) “Beekeeper” means a person who owns, leases, possesses, controls, or manages one or more colonies of bees for any personal or commercial purpose.
(4) “Bee” means any stage of the common honeybee, Apismellifera species. (4) “Bee” means any stage of a member of the genus Apis.
(5) “Colony” means the hive and its equipment andappurtenances including bees, comb, honey, pollen, and brood. (5) “Colony” means all of the bees living together as one social unit and may include the hive and its appurtenances including bees, brood, comb, honey, and pollen.
(6) “Director” means the director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. (6) “Director” means the director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
(7) “Disease” means American foulbrood, European foulbrood, any other contagious or infectious disease of honeybees, or parasites or pests that affect bees or brood. (7) “Disease” means American foulbrood, any other disease of honey bees, or parasites that affect bees or brood and that are considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector.
(8) “Equipment” means hives, supers, frames, veils, gloves, tools, machines, or other devices for the handling and manipulation of bees, honey, pollen, wax, or hives, including, storage or transporting containers for pollen, honey, or wax, or other apiary supplies used in the operation of an apiary or honey house. (8) “Equipment” means hives, supers, frames, veils, gloves, tools, machines, vacuums, or other devices for the handling and manipulation of bees, honey, pollen, wax, or hives, including storage or transporting containers for pollen, honey, or wax or other apiary supplies used in the operation of an apiary or honey house.
(8-a) “Hive” means a container or structure used by a beekeeper to provide a cavity in which a colony of bees is expected to establish a permanent nest.
(9) “Inspector” means the chief apiary inspector. <unchanged>
(10) “Label” as a noun, means written or printed material accompanying a product and furnishing identification or a description. The term includes material attached to a product or its immediate container and material inserted in an immediate container or other packaging of a product. <unchanged>
(11) “Label” as a verb, means to attach or insert a label. <unchanged>
(12) “Nucleus” means a small mass of bees and combs of brood used in forming a new colony. <unchanged>
(12-a) “Package” means live bees in cages without combs or honey used in forming a new colony.
(12-b) “Pest” means an insect, mite, or organism that causes damage or abnormality to bees and that is considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector.
(13) “Pollen” means dust-like grains formed in the anthers of flowering plants in which the male elements or sperm are produced. <unchanged>
(14) “Pure honey” means the nectar of plants that has been transformed by, and is the natural product of, bees and that is in the comb or has been taken from the comb and is packaged in a liquid, crystallized, or granular form. <unchanged>
(15) “Queen apiary” means an apiary in which queen bees are reared or kept for sale, barter, or exchange. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
(16) “Reportable disease” and “reportable pest” mean a disease or pest that presents a significant threat to the population of honey bees and that has been designated by the chief apiary inspector as a disease or pest that must be reported under Section 131.025.
(17) “Unwanted species of bees” means a species of bees, including a non-Apis species of bees, that is considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector and that must be reported under Section 131.025.
Sec. 131.002. CHIEF APIARY INSPECTOR. <unchanged>
(a) The director shall appoint a person qualified by scientific training or personal experience as chief apiary inspector to make inspections and administer this chapter under the direction and control of the director. <unchanged>
(b) Repealed by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 1st C.S., ch. 17, Sec. 7.01(4), eff. Nov. 12, 1991. <unchanged>
(c) The state entomologist shall make an annual report to the director giving a detailed account of inspection activities, receipt and use of funds, and compliance actions brought under this chapter. <deleted>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 186, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 1st C.S., ch. 17, Sec. 7.01(4), eff. Nov. 12, 1991.
Sec. 131.003. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. <unchanged>
(a) A person may not serve as chief apiary inspector or be an assistant of the inspector if the person is an officer, employee, or paid consultant of a trade association in the beekeeping industry. <unchanged>
(b) A person may not serve as chief apiary inspector or be an assistant of the inspector of the grade 17 or over, including exempt employees, according to the position classification schedule under the General Appropriations Act, if the person cohabits with or is the spouse of an officer, managerial employee, or paid consultant of a trade association in the beekeeping industry. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.004. ASSISTANTS. <unchanged>
(a) The chief apiary inspector may employ assistants and inspectors as necessary, subject to the approval of the director and governing board of the experiment station. (a) The chief apiary inspector may employ assistants and inspectors as necessary, subject to the approval of the director.
(b) The inspector shall provide to his assistants as often as is necessary information regarding their qualifications under this chapter and their responsibilities under applicable laws relating to standards of conduct for state officers or employees. <unchanged>
(c) The inspector shall develop a system of annual performance evaluations based on measurable job tasks. All merit pay for the inspector’s assistants must be based on the system established under this subsection. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.005. ANNUAL REPORTS. <unchanged>
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall make an annual report to the director giving a detailed account of inspection activities, receipt and use of funds, and compliance actions brought under this chapter. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall make an annual report to the director giving a detailed account of all activities, receipt and use of funds, and compliance actions brought under this chapter.
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1083 (S.B. 1179), Sec. 25(4), eff. June 17, 2011. <unchanged>
Sec. 131.006. AUDIT. <unchanged>
The financial transactions of the chief apiary inspector are subject to audit by the state auditor in accordance with Chapter 321, Government Code. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 584, Sec. 68, eff. Sept. 1989.
Sec. 131.007. PUBLISHING INFORMATION. Sec. 131.007. PUBLIC INFORMATION.
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall publish information on methods and directions for treating, eradicating, or suppressing infectious diseases of honeybees, the rules adopted for those purposes, and other information that the inspector considers of value or necessity to the beekeeping interests of this state. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall publish information and present educational programs on methods and directions for treating, eradicating, or suppressing diseases and pests of honey bees and unwanted species of bees, the rules adopted for those purposes, and other information that the inspector considers of value or necessity to the beekeeping interests of this state.
(b) The inspector shall prepare information of public interest describing the functions of the agency and describing the procedure by which complaints are filed with and resolved by the inspector. The inspector shall make the information available to the general public and appropriate state agencies. <unchanged>
(c) The inspector shall adopt rules establishing methods by which consumers and service recipients can be notified of the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the inspector’s office for the purpose of directing complaints to the inspector. The inspector may provide for the notification by including the information: <deleted>
(1) on each registration or application form submitted by a person regulated under this chapter; <deleted>
(2) on a sign which is prominently displayed in the place of business of each person regulated under this chapter; or <deleted>
(3) in a bill for services or goods provided by a person regulated under this chapter. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.008. COMPLAINTS. <unchanged>
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall keep an information file about each complaint filed with the inspector relating to a beekeeper regulated under this chapter. <unchanged>
(b) If a written complaint is filed with the inspector relating to a beekeeper regulated under this chapter, the inspector shall notify the parties to the complaint, at least quarterly and until final disposition of the complaint, of the status of the complaint, unless notice would jeopardize an undercover investigation. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.009. PUBLIC TESTIMONY. <unchanged>
The chief apiary inspector shall develop and implement policies that will provide the public with a reasonable opportunity to appear before the inspector and to speak on any issue under the jurisdiction of the inspector. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.010. FEES. Sec. 131.010. FEES.
The chief apiary inspector shall make a reasonable effort to set the fees charged under this chapter at amounts that will produce enough revenue to approximate 50 percent of the inspector’s total budget. In achieving this goal, the inspector shall balance the revenue needs against the effect of the fees on the industry. The chief apiary inspector shall make a reasonable effort to set the fees charged under this chapter at amounts that are reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this chapter. In setting fees, the inspector shall balance the revenue needs against the effect of the fees on the industry.
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
SUBCHAPTER B. DISEASE CONTROL SUBCHAPTER B. DISEASE AND PEST CONTROL
Sec. 131.021. POWERS AND DUTIES OF CHIEF APIARY INSPECTOR. <unchanged>
(a) For the purpose of enforcing this chapter, the chief apiary inspector may: <unchanged>
(1) adopt rules and act as necessary to control, eradicate, or prevent the introduction, spread, or dissemination of contagious or infectious diseases of bees; (1) adopt rules and act as necessary to control, eradicate, or prevent the introduction, spread, or dissemination of diseases, pests, or unwanted species of bees;
(2) prohibit the shipment or entry into this state of bees, honey, combs, pollen, or other items capable of transmitting diseases of bees from another state, territory, or foreign country except in accordance with rules adopted by the inspector; and (2) prohibit the shipment or entry into this state of bees, honey, combs, pollen, or other items capable of transmitting diseases, pests, and unwanted species of bees from another state, territory, or foreign country except in accordance with rules adopted by the inspector;
(3) seize and order the destruction, treatment, or sale of a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey that is determined to be diseased, infectious, abandoned, or in violation of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter. (3) seize and order the destruction or treatment of a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey that:
(A) is determined to be diseased or infectious;
(B) contains unwanted species of bees or pests; or
(C) is in violation of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter; and
(4) seize and order the destruction, treatment, or sale of a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey that is determined by the inspector to be abandoned.*
(b) For purposes of this section, apiaries, equipment, or bees are considered infectious if: (b) For purposes of this section, apiaries, equipment, or bees are considered infectious if:
(1) the bees are not hived with movable frames or stored so as to prevent the possible spread of disease; or (1) the bees are not hived with movable frames or not stored so as to prevent the possible spread of disease or pests; or
(2) the bees, equipment, or apiary generally comprise a hazard or threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry. (2) the bees, equipment, or apiary generally comprise a hazard or threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.022. QUARANTINES. **
(a) If the chief apiary inspector determines that the public welfare requires the establishment of a quarantine, the inspector may: (a) If the chief apiary inspector determines that public welfare or protection of the beekeeping industry requires the establishment of a quarantine, the inspector may:
(1) declare a protective quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees or a deleterious exotic species of bees is not known to exist or in which the disease or exotic species is being eradicated in accordance with this subchapter; or (1) declare a protective quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees, a pest of bees, or an unwanted species of bees is not known to exist or in which the disease, pest, or unwanted species of bees is being eradicated in accordance with this subchapter; or
(2) declare a restrictive quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees or a deleterious exotic species of bees is located. (2) declare a restrictive quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees, a pest of bees, or an unwanted species of bees is located.
(b) A person may not move or ship bees, equipment, pollen, or honey into or out of an area quarantined under this section, except in accordance with rules adopted by the inspector. <unchanged>
(c) On request from a beekeeper, the inspector may grant an exemption to a quarantine imposed under this section. The inspector may adopt rules for submitting requests and granting exemptions under this subsection.
(d) A beekeeper directly affected by a quarantine imposed under this section may petition the director for a review of the inspector’s quarantine order or the inspector’s denial of the beekeeper’s request for exemption under Subsection (c). The request must be in writing and filed with the director not later than the 30th day after the date the quarantine is initiated or the beekeeper receives notice that the exemption request is denied, as applicable.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. <unchanged>
Sec. 131.023. SALE OF QUEEN BEE AND ATTENDANTS, PACKAGE BEES, AND NUCLEI. **
A person may not sell or offer for sale a queen bee and attendant bees, package bees, nuclei, or queen cells in this state unless the bees are accompanied by: (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person may not sell or offer for sale a queen bee and attendant bees, package bees, colonies, nuclei, or queen cells in this state unless the bees are accompanied by a certificate of inspection that certifies that the bees are apparently free from disease and pests based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the sale.
(b) This section does not apply to a person who annually sells less than:
(1) a total of 25 queen bees, packages of bees, colonies, and nuclei; and
(2) 100 queen cells
(1) a copy of a certificate from the chief apiary inspector certifying that the apiary from which the queen bee was shipped has been inspected not more than 12 months before the date of shipment and found apparently free from disease; or <deleted>
(2) a copy of an affidavit made by the beekeeper stating that: <deleted>
(A) to his knowledge, the bees are not diseased; and <deleted>
(B) the honey used in making the candy contained in the queen cage has been diluted and boiled for at least 30 minutes in a closed vessel. <deleted>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.024. SEIZURE OF BEES, EQUIPMENT, POLLEN, OR HONEY.
(a) Bees, equipment, pollen, or honey seized by the chief apiary inspector under Section 131.021 of this code shall be treated, destroyed, or sold at public auction. <unchanged>
(b) At least five days before an item seized under Section 131.021 of this code may be treated, destroyed, or sold, the inspector shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, written notice of the proposed disposition of the item to the last known address of the beekeeper or the owner of the item. The notice must describe the item, the proposed disposition of the item, and the reason for the disposition. If the name or address of the beekeeper or owner of the item is unknown, the inspector shall: (b) Before an item seized under Section 131.021 may be treated, destroyed, or sold, the inspector shall provide written notice of the proposed disposition of the item to the beekeeper or the owner of the item in the manner provided by Subsection (b-1) or (b-2). The notice must describe the item, the proposed disposition of the item, and the reason for the disposition.
(1) publish notice of the proposed disposition for at least five consecutive days in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was seized; or (b-1) The inspector shall, not later than the fifth day before the proposed disposition date:
(2) post notice of the proposed disposition for at least five consecutive days in three public places, including the door of the county courthouse, in the county where the property was seized. (1) send written notice to the beekeeper’s or owner’s last known address by first class mail and by certified mail, return receipt requested; and
(2) provide written notice to the beekeeper or owner by:
(A) hand delivery;
(B) process server delivery; or
(C) next-day delivery through the United States Postal Service or a similar service.
(b-2) If the name or address of the beekeeper or owner of the item is unknown, the inspector shall, not later than the fifth day before the proposed disposition date:
(1) publish notice of the proposed disposition in at least one issue of a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was seized; or
(2) post notice of the proposed disposition on the door of the county courthouse or at another location designated for public notices in the county where the property was seized.
(c) If the inspector sells bees, equipment, pollen, or honey at a public auction under this section, the inspector shall return the proceeds of the sale to the former owner after deducting the costs of the sale. (c) If the inspector sells bees, equipment, pollen, or honey at a public auction under this section, the inspector shall return the proceeds of the sale to the former owner, if known, after deducting the costs of the sale.
(d) The owner of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey treated or destroyed under this section is liable for the costs of treatment or destruction, and the inspector may sue to collect those costs. The inspector shall remit money collected under this subsection to the comptroller for deposit to the credit of the general revenue fund. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 2.12, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
Sec. 131.025. DUTY TO REPORT DISEASED BEES. Sec. 131.025. REPORTABLE DISEASES AND PESTS; UNWANTED SPECIES OF BEES **
If a beekeeper knows that a colony of bees is diseased, the beekeeper shall immediately report to the chief apiary inspector all facts known about the diseased bees. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall maintain and publish:
(1) a list of reportable diseases and reportable pests; and
(2) a list of unwanted species of bees.
(b) If a beekeeper knows that a colony of bees has a reportable disease or contains a reportable pest or an unwanted species of bee, the beekeeper shall immediately report to the chief apiary inspector all facts known about the situation.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
SUBCHAPTER C. PERMITS AND REGISTRATION <unchanged>
Sec. 131.041. PERMIT FOR IMPORTATION. Sec. 131.041. PERMIT FOR INTERSTATE MOVEMENT **
(a) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped bees or equipment into this state unless the person has a permit issued by the chief apiary inspector authorizing the shipment. (a) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped bees or equipment into or out of this state unless the person has a permit issued by the chief apiary inspector authorizing the shipment.
(b) A person may apply for a permit under this section by filing an application with the inspector before the 10th day preceding the date of the shipment. An application for a permit must include: (b) A person may apply for a permit under this section by filing an application with the inspector. A person may apply for a permit at any time, but a person must apply for a permit before the 10th day preceding the date of the shipment if the person does not hold a permit on that date. An application for a permit must include all information required by the chief apiary inspector.
(1) a complete description of the shipment; (b-1) A permit issued under this section applies to all shipments made by the beekeeper and expires on August 31 following the date the permit is issued.
(2) the destination of the shipment; (b-2) For a shipment originating outside this state:
(1) a certificate of inspection signed by the official apiary inspector or entomologist of the state, territory, or country from which the bees are to be shipped is required before the shipment may enter the state; or
(2) the chief apiary inspector of Texas must have inspected the shipment not more than 12 months before the date of the shipment.
(3) the approximate date of the shipment; <deleted>
(4) the names and addresses of the consignor and consignee; and <deleted>
(5) a certificate of inspection signed by the official apiary inspector or entomologist of the state, territory, or country from which the bees are to be shipped. <deleted>
(c) A certificate of inspection for a permit required by Subsection (b)(5) of this section must certify that the bees or equipment are apparently free from disease based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the shipment. If the bees or equipment are to be shipped into this state from a state, territory, or country that does not have an official apiary inspector or entomologist, the person shipping the bees or equipment may provide other suitable evidence that the bees and equipment are free from disease. (c) A certificate of inspection for a permit required by Subsection (b-2) must certify that the bees or equipment are apparently free from disease and pests based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the shipment. If the bees or equipment are to be shipped into this state from a state, territory, or country that does not have an official apiary inspector or entomologist:
(1) the person shipping the bees or equipment may provide other suitable evidence that the bees and equipment are free from disease and pests; or
(2) the bees may be shipped into this state under quarantine and the person receiving the shipment shall have the bees inspected not later than the 30th day after the date the bees enter this state.
(d) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (b) of this section and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit authorizing the shipment. (d) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (b) and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease or pest control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit authorizing the shipment.
(e) This section does not apply to a shipment of live bees in wire cages without combs or honey. (e) This section does not apply to a shipment of package bees.
(f) The inspector shall charge a fee for each permit issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
(g) An individual who is exempt from registration under Section 131.045 is exempt from the permit fee charged under Subsection (f).
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.042. PERMIT FOR EXPORTATION. <deleted>
(a) A person who ships bees or equipment from this state to another state, territory, or country may apply to the chief apiary inspector for a permit authorizing the shipment. The application must include: <deleted>
(1) a complete description of the shipment; <deleted>
(2) the destination of the shipment; <deleted>
(3) the approximate date of the shipment; <deleted>
(4) the names and addresses of the consignor and consignee; and <deleted>
(5) evidence that the shipment is apparently free from a disease of bees. <deleted>
(b) The inspector shall accept as evidence that a shipment is apparently free from disease either: <deleted>
(1) a certificate of inspection issued under Section 131.044 of this code; or <deleted>
(2) an affidavit by the beekeeper or owner of the bees or equipment stating that to his knowledge, the bees or equipment are free from disease. <deleted>
(c) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (a) of this section, and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit for the shipment. <deleted>
(d) The inspector shall charge a fee for each permit issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than $50. Additional copies of each permit issued under this section shall be available from the inspector for a reasonable fee set by the inspector at not less than $10. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.043. PERMITS FOR INTRASTATE SHIPMENT. <deleted> **
(a) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped bees or equipment between counties in this state unless the person has a permit issued by the chief apiary inspector authorizing the shipment. <deleted>
(b) A person may apply for a permit under this section by filing an application for a permit with the inspector before the 10th day preceding the date of shipment. An application for a permit must include: <deleted>
(1) the name, address, and telephone number of the beekeeper; <deleted>
(2) a complete description of the bees or equipment to be moved; <deleted>
(3) the number of intercounty movements anticipated; <deleted>
(4) the destination of each shipment; and <deleted>
(5) the approximate date or dates of movement. <deleted>
(c) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (b) of this section and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit authorizing the shipment. <deleted>
(d) The inspector shall charge a fee for each permit issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than $25. <deleted>
(e) An individual who owns not more than 12 colonies of bees is exempt from the permit fee charged under Subsection (d) of this section. <deleted>
(f) A permit issued under this section entitles the permittee to move the bees or equipment between the designated counties during the state fiscal year in which the permit was issued. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.044. CERTIFICATE OF INSPECTION. <unchanged>
(a) A person who wants a certificate of inspection for bees, equipment, pollen, or honey must file a written request for the inspection with the chief apiary inspector. (a) A person who wants a certificate of inspection for bees, equipment, pollen, or honey must request the inspection from the chief apiary inspector.
(b) On receipt of a request, the inspector shall authorize the inspection of the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey for the presence of disease. (b) On receipt of a request, the inspector shall authorize the inspection of the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey for the presence of disease, pests, and unwanted species of bees.
(c) If a disease is not found in the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey, the inspector shall certify in writing that the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is apparently free from disease. (c) If no disease, pest, or unwanted species of bee is found in the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey, the inspector shall certify in writing that the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is apparently free from disease, pests, and unwanted species of bees.
(d) The inspector shall charge fees for inspections requested under this section. The inspector shall set the fees in amounts that are reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than the following amounts: (d) The inspector shall charge fees for inspections requested under this section. The inspector shall set the fees in amounts that are reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
(1) for each inspection of an apiary or group of apiaries, except a queen apiary, located within an area of 100 square miles………………………………………… $ 50 <deleted>
(2) for an inspection of a queen apiary or group of queen apiaries located within an area of 100 square miles……… $200 <deleted>
(3) for each additional inspection of a queen apiary or group of queen apiaries located within an area of 100 square miles …………………………………………………. $ 50. <deleted>
(e) The beekeeper of diseased bees or equipment shall pay an additional fee, in a reasonable amount set by the inspector at not less that $25, for each subsequent inspection that the inspector determines is necessary to contain, treat, or eradicate the disease. (e) The beekeeper of diseased bees or of equipment that contains a pest or an unwanted species of bee shall pay an additional fee, in a reasonable amount set by the inspector, for each subsequent inspection that the inspector determines is necessary to contain, treat, or eradicate the disease, pest, or unwanted species of bee.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.045. APIARY REGISTRATION. Sec. 131.045. BEEKEEPER REGISTRATION. ***
(a) The chief apiary inspector may provide for the periodic registration of all apiaries in this state. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (d), each beekeeper in this state shall annually register with the chief apiary inspector. A registration under this section expires August 31.
(b) A registration must include:
(1) the beekeeper’s name, address, and telephone number; (1) information required by the chief apiary inspector; and
(2) the county or counties in which the apiary will be located; and (2) the county or counties in which the beekeeper operates.
(3) the approximate dates that the apiary will be located in each county. <deleted>
(c) The inspector may require a beekeeper to submit with the registration information a map showing the exact location of each of the beekeeper’s apiaries. A map submitted under this section is a trade secret under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be disclosed. (c) The inspector may require a beekeeper to submit with the registration information a map showing the exact location of each of the beekeeper’s apiaries. A map submitted under this section is a trade secret under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be disclosed.
(d) A beekeeper with an annual average of fewer than 25 colonies or nuclei is exempt from mandatory registration under this section but may voluntarily register.
(e) The chief apiary inspector shall charge a fee for each registration issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 5.95(88), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.
Sec. 131.046. DISPOSITION AND USE OF FEES.
(a) Fees collected under this subchapter shall be deposited in the State Treasury to the credit of a special fund to be known as the bee disease control fund to be used only to defray the costs of administering and enforcing this chapter. (e) The chief apiary inspector shall charge a fee for each registration issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
(b) The chief apiary inspector may sue to collect a delinquent fee under this subchapter. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
SUBCHAPTER D. BRANDING AND IDENTIFICATION OF APIARY EQUIPMENT SUBCHAPTER D. BRANDING AND IDENTIFICATION OF HIVES
Sec. 131.061. IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED. **
A person may not operate an apiary in this state unless the apiary equipment is: (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a:
(1) clearly and indelibly marked with the name and address of the person; or (1) clearly and permanently marked with the name of the person as provided by Section 131.064;
(2) branded in accordance with Section 131.064 of this code with a brand registered to the person by the chief apiary inspector. (2) branded in accordance with Section 131.064 with a brand registered to the person by the chief apiary inspector; or
(3) identified by a weatherproof sign posted within the apiary containing the name and contact information or the brand number of the person managing the apiary, printed in lettering at least one inch high.
(b) An apiary at the principal residence of a beekeeper is exempt from the requirements of Subsection (a).
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.062. BRAND; REGISTRATION. <unchanged>
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall maintain a system of registration of apiary equipment brands to identify equipment used by a beekeeper in an apiary. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall maintain a system of registration of beekeeper brands to identify equipment used by the beekeeper. The inspector shall assign a brand number to each beekeeper when the beekeeper registers under Section 131.045.
(b) Each brand shall consist of three numbers separated by hyphens, with the first number signifying that the brand is a state-registered brand, the second number identifying the registrant’s county of residence, and the third number identifying the registrant. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. <unchanged>
Sec. 131.063. REGISTRATION OF BRAND; FEE. <deleted>
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall register a brand for each person who applies for a brand and pays a recording fee. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than 50 cents. <deleted>
(b) The inspector shall remit money collected under this section to the comptroller for deposit to the credit of the bee disease control fund. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 2.13, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.
Sec. 131.064. AFFIXING BRAND TO EQUIPMENT. Sec. 131.064. MANNER OF AFFIXING NAME OR BRAND TO HIVES . **
A registrant shall affix the registered brand to his or her apiary equipment by burning or pressing the brand, in figures at least three-quarters of an inch high, into the wood or other material in a manner that shows the identification of equipment. The registrant shall affix the brand on one or both ends of the hive. On other equipment, including a frame, intercover, top, bottom, or plank, the registrant may affix the brand in any place. A name or brand must be affixed to a hive by burning, pressing, painting, or otherwise permanently marking the name or brand, in figures at least one-half of an inch high, into the wood or other material in a manner that shows the identification of the hive. The name or brand must be affixed on one or both ends of the hive.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
Sec. 131.065. TRANSFER OF BRAND. <unchanged>
(a) A brand may be transferred only if: <unchanged>
(1) the chief apiary inspector approves the transfer; and <unchanged>
(2) the transferor is selling all of the transferor’s bees and equipment to the person to whom the brand is to be transferred. <unchanged>
(b) If a brand is to be transferred, the seller shall give a bill of sale for the bees and equipment that shows the seller’s brand. <unchanged>
(c) A person may sell an individual piece of branded equipment, but the brand is not transferred to the buyer. If the buyer of the equipment has a brand, the buyer shall affix the buyer’s brand below the brand of the prior owner. (c) A person may sell an individual piece of branded equipment, but the brand is not transferred to the buyer. If the buyer of the equipment has a brand, the buyer shall affix the buyer’s brand above or below the brand of the prior owner.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
SUBCHAPTER E. LABELING AND SALE OF HONEY <unchanged>
Sec. 131.081. USE OF “HONEY” ON LABEL. <unchanged>
A person may not label, sell, or keep, offer, or expose for sale a product identified on its label as “honey,” “liquid or extracted honey,” “strained honey,” or “pure honey” unless the product consists exclusively of pure honey. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
Sec. 131.082. USE OF BEE, HIVE, OR COMB DESIGN. <unchanged>
A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that resembles honey and that has on its label a picture or drawing of a bee, hive, or comb unless the product consists exclusively of pure honey. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
Sec. 131.083. SALE OF IMITATION HONEY. <unchanged>
A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that resembles honey and is identified on its label as “imitation honey.” <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
Sec. 131.084. SALE OF HONEY MIXTURES. <unchanged>
(a) A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that consists of honey mixed with another ingredient unless: <unchanged>
(1) the product bears a label with a list of ingredients; and <unchanged>
(2) “honey” appears in the list of ingredients in the same size type of print as the other ingredients. <unchanged>
(b) A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that contains honey mixed with another ingredient and contains in the product name “honey” in a larger size of type or print or in a more prominent position than the other words in the product name. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
SUBCHAPTER F. ENFORCEMENT <unchanged>
Sec. 131.101. ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY. <unchanged>
The chief apiary inspector is the official responsible for enforcing Subchapters B, C, and D of this chapter. The Texas Department of Health is the agency responsible for enforcing Subchapter E of this chapter. The chief apiary inspector is the official responsible for enforcing Subchapters B, C, and D. The Department of State Health Services is the agency responsible for enforcing Subchapter E.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.102. ENTRY POWER. <unchanged>
(a) The chief apiary inspector may enter at a reasonable hour any public or private premises, including a building, depot, express office, storeroom, vehicle, or warehouse, in which bees, equipment, pollen, or honey may be located to determine whether a violation of Subchapter B, C, or D of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. <unchanged>
(b) The Texas Department of Health may enter at a reasonable hour any public or private premises, including a building, depot, express office, storeroom, vehicle, or warehouse, in which bees, equipment, pollen, or honey may be located to determine whether a violation of Subchapter E of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. (b) The Department of State Health Services may enter at a reasonable hour any public or private premises, including a building, depot, express office, storeroom, vehicle, or warehouse, in which bees, equipment, pollen, or honey may be located to determine whether a violation of Subchapter E has occurred or is occurring.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.103. STOP-SALE ORDER. <unchanged>
If the official or agency responsible for enforcing a provision of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter has reason to believe a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is in violation of the provision, the official or agency may issue a written order to stop the sale of the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey. When the official or agency issues a stop-sale order, the official or agency shall deliver a copy of the order to the person who possesses the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey. On receipt of the copy of the order, a person may not sell or transport the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey until the official or agency that issued the order determines that the items are in compliance with this chapter. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
Sec. 131.104. CIVIL ACTIONS. <unchanged>
(a) The official or agency responsible for enforcing a provision of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter may sue to enjoin a violation or threatened violation of the provision and may maintain other civil actions necessary to enforce this chapter. <unchanged>
(b) On the request of the official or agency suing under this section, the attorney general or a county or district attorney shall represent the official or agency in the civil action. <unchanged>
(c) A sheriff or constable shall protect the officers or employees of the official or agency in the discharge of the duties given to the official or agency by this chapter. <unchanged>
(d) The official or agency is not required to give bond or other security in a legal proceeding instituted or defended under this chapter in a court of this state. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
Sec. 131.105. VENUE FOR CIVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS. <unchanged>
Venue for a civil or criminal prosecution under this chapter is in the county where the affected group of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is located at the time the violation is discovered by or made known to the official or agency. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.
SUBCHAPTER G. PENALTIES <unchanged>
Sec. 131.121. DISEASE CONTROL. Sec. 131.121. DISEASE AND PEST CONTROL.
(a) A person commits an offense if the person: (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) violates a provision of Section 131.022 or 131.023 of this code; (1) violates a provision of Section 131.022 or 131.023;
(2) fails to report diseased bees in accordance with Section 131.025 of this code; (2) fails to report reportable diseases, reportable pests, or unwanted species of bees in accordance with Section 131.025; **
(3) ships or causes bees or equipment to be shipped into this state or between counties in this state without the permit required by Section 131.041 or 131.043 of this chapter; (3) ships or causes bees or equipment to be shipped into this state without the permit required by Section 131.041; **
(4) violates a rule, order, or quarantine of the chief apiary inspector adopted under this chapter; (4) violates a rule, order, or quarantine of the chief apiary inspector adopted under this chapter;
(5) prevents or attempts to prevent an inspection of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey under the direction of the inspector under this chapter; (5) prevents or attempts to prevent an inspection of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey under the direction of the inspector under this chapter;
(6) prevents or attempts to prevent the discovery or treatment of diseased bees; (6) prevents or attempts to prevent the discovery or treatment of reportable diseases, reportable pests, or unwanted species of bees; **
(7) interferes with or attempts to interfere with the inspector in the discharge of the duties under this chapter; (7) interferes with or attempts to interfere with the inspector in the discharge of the duties under this chapter;
(8) as the owner or keeper of a diseased colony of bees, barters, gives away, sells, ships, or moves diseased bees, equipment, pollen, or honey or exposes other bees to the disease; (8) as the owner or keeper of a colony of bees that has a reportable disease, a reportable pest, or an unwanted species of bee, barters, gives away, sells, ships, or moves the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey or exposes other bees to the reportable disease, reportable pest, or unwanted species of bee; **
(9) exposes honey, pollen, hives, frames, combs, bees, or appliances known to be diseased in a manner that provides access to bees; or (9) exposes honey, pollen, hives, frames, combs, bees, or appliances from a colony of bees known to have a reportable disease, a reportable pest, or an unwanted species of bee in a manner that provides access to other bees; **
(10) sells, offers for sale, barters, gives away, ships, or distributes honey or pollen taken from a colony of diseased bees. (10) sells, offers for sale, barters, gives away, ships, or distributes honey or pollen taken from a colony of bees that has a reportable disease or a colony of bees that contains a reportable pest; or **
(11) fails to register with the chief apiary inspector as required by Section 131.045. ***
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. <unchanged>
(c) All fines collected under this section shall be depositedin the state treasury. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.122. APIARY EQUIPMENT BRANDS. Sec. 131.122. IDENTIFICATION **
(a) A person commits an offense if the person: (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) violates Section 131.061 of this code; or (1) violates Section 131.061; or
(2) alters or attempts to alter a registered apiary equipment brand without authorization from the chief apiary inspector. (2) alters or attempts to alter a registered brand without authorization from the chief apiary inspector.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. <unchanged>
(c) Each of the following is prima facie evidence of an offense under this section: <unchanged>
(1) unauthorized possession of equipment on which the brand has been altered; <unchanged>
(2) possession of branded equipment without a bill of sale or written proof of ownership; or <unchanged>
(3) use of a registered brand that is not registered to the person using the brand. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.
Sec. 131.123. LABELING OR SALE OF HONEY. <unchanged>
(a) A person commits an offense if the person violates a provision of Subchapter E of this chapter. <unchanged>
(b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.

* This numbering may be a formatting error.** These sections take affect after September 1, 2017 and former law applies until that date.*** These sections take affect after September 1, 2018All other sections take affect after September 1, 2017

The Chilling Impact of HB 1293 on Small Business

In 2015 I left my work in the oil field. While it was voluntary at the time, it may have become involuntary had I waited – it’s no secret the oil patch is seeing tough times. My small beekeeping operation is what allowed me to stay afloat during this period. I run a small honey production operation in the Coastal Bend of Texas.

If you keep more than a dozen or so colonies, you know that it’s hard work. Making a living selling honey by the bottle is tough, much tougher than I anticipated. That’s exactly why I oppose HB 1293.

From a small business point of view, this bill creates additional burdens on small and growing beekeeping enterprises. Registration will be come more rigorous and costly. My ability to expand into queen sales will be hindered by added government fees and intrusive inspections. The chief inspector will be given great power to declare common and ordinary pests “reportable pests” and is given the ability to order the destruction or treatment of affected colonies. To add insult to injury, TAIS will have the power to send me a bill for this.

TBA tells me to “use common sense” and that “he would never do that.” I’d like that in writing please. Fees will be reasonable. Pest declarations will be reasonable. Disease declaration will be reasonable. The law does not follow common sense. Only the plain language of the law matters, and this law comes with few, if any, restrictions on these critical declarations. Once declared, they are not subject to significant review.

The existing law requires very little from Texas Beekeepers. Registration is superficial at best, because it’s unnecessary. Cattle operations are not registered. Breeding heifers are not required to be inspected prior to sale. Inspections of set-down beekeeping operations, too, are sparse, and again, unnecessary. Indeed, all of the existing rules have been ineffective. Despite quarantines and moving permits, Africanized bees have spread across the greatest portion of Texas. Despite these measures, the small hive beetle spread to every corner of Texas. Varroa mites, of course spread everywhere unchecked. Nosema is common here. There has simply been no significant bee disease contained or stopped by registration and inspections of Texas beekeepers.

HB 1293 adds an odd twist to the purview of the chief inspector: that of “non-apis” species of bees. It is unfathomable that we would put an agriculture inspector in charge of hundreds of species of native bees with limited or no commercial value. Certainly the environmental advocates will not allow this when they catch wind of the inspectors power to declare these native, non-apis species “unwanted species of bees.”

TBA tells us that this “non-apis” language takes aim at the Cape Honeybee from South Africa. This is absurd in the extreme. A 7th grade biology student could explain that Apis mellifera capensis (the Cape Honeybee) is clearly not a “non-apis” species. It’s right in the name! This is a particularly puzzling part of the proposed law. When pressed, I’ve also been told it was for exotic species of bees like the Asian Honeybee (Apis Cerana, in case you wonder) or native stingless bees from South or Central America, bees that have lived there for millennia.

HB1293 is also a generous gift to the hobby beekeeper. The vast majority of all hobby beekeepers will be exempt from all but a few of the rules, as they should be, as we all should be. Ironically, hobby beekeepers suffer significantly higher levels of bee disease and loss than bigger operations. By some data sets, hobby beekeepers suffer losses approaching 80% annually. But the reality is that hobby beekeepers simply aren’t numerous enough to vector significant disease in the state. A big reason they can’t do so is not just their numbers, but the fact that they stay put and don’t transport bees (or disease and pests) over any significant distance, a big requirement to threaten the industry on a regional or state-wide basis.

HB 1293 adds a requirement for queen breeders to pay for and suffer annual inspections. This is also absurd. The idea that tiny numbers of bees (a queen and a few attendants) will vector disease across the industry is impossible. Queen breeding operations are necessarily among the cleanest in the entire world-wide industry. One simply can not breed saleable queens in anything less than top notch breeder colonies.

I will close with two points along the same lines. “Sideliner” operations, those with fewer than 400 hives, are similar to hobby keepers in that they seldom transport bees. These set-down, honey operations, are limited in size by the beekeeper’s serviceable area. These operations typically see fewer disease and pest problems for a variety of reasons. Foremost, those threats can be devastating to such a small operation, so they are closely monitored or the business will quickly fail. The ability of these beekeepers to closely monitor colony health is paramount to protecting these fragile businesses. This self-inspection is a regular routine when your livelihood depends on healthy colonies. Significantly, this entire class of beekeepers (25-400 hives) is completely ignored in the HB1293.

Set-down beekeepers also retain the ability to practice comprehensive IPM techniques that reduce the need for hive treatments. These IPM practices contribute to low disease, low pest, and low loss rates among these operations. Indeed, a few of these 400 or less operations have abandoned expensive chemical treatments entirely, and continue to maintain strong, healthy bee operations.

I ask hobby beekeepers to consider the burden this proposal adds to growing a small beekeeping business. Although you’re given a great exemption, others who depend on their bees will interrupt their business with inspections and suffer the financial set-back of added (and unspecified) fees. Before you support this proposal, think about how tough it would be to grow your own apiary to 50 hives, or 150. The work, the cost, the time. And then weigh that burden against the risk that is minimal.

HB1293 does not address any real problem in Texas. The rules it keeps are ineffective. The rules it adds are unnecessary. The power it gives to one official is too broad and without sufficient review. It does not reflect any real threats to beekeeping in Texas. Take a careful look at the proposal and consider the small businesses that are struggling to make it in a tough industry. TAIS should focus on commercial pollinators with potential to bring disease into Texas. The small set-down operators here are vulnerable to that risk, not the other way around. We pose little risk to “the industry.”

HB1293 is a costly expansion of a law that has proven itself ineffective. I oppose the bill because it will hurt my small business and yield no positive results. I encourage you to read the side-by-side version of the bill and see how similar the structure is: register-inspect-quarantine. It’s a system that has failed each time in Texas: SHB, Varroa, AHB. Let’s not add more cost to a failed system.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our positions here.