Delegates Meeting Q and A

Fellow beekeepers,

The TBA held its annual winter delegates meeting in College Station to brief member clubs on TBA activities and to receive feedback on future activities.

Also solicited were questions pertaining to HB 1293. These were collected and are recorded here, verbatim, along with TBA’s answers. The questions below came from two individual questioners.

Thanks to the approximately 80 individuals who participated in the Winter Delegates Meeting!

Regards,

Roger Farr

TBA Area Director

Are the committee and TBA willing to recommend amendments to HB 1293? – In the opinion of TBA’s officers, the likelihood of getting the bill passed this legislative session goes down significantly if we disrupt the process by submitting changes. Hence, TBA would prefer to move forward with HB 1293 as is and to collect potential changes to HB 1293 for use in the 2019 legislative cycle as potential further updates to Section 131 of the Agriculture Code.

Does TBA realize that HB 1293 allows for mandated registration of feral hives? – Section 131 of the Agriculture Code only applies to managed hives in Texas according to Mark Dykes, the Chief Apiary Inspector of Texas. Mark is not responsible for regulation of unmanaged or feral hives.

Does TBA believe it’s members support HB 1293? – TBA, over the last few weeks has actively communicated with ALL of it’s members via e-mail, website, and postal mail regarding HB 1293 and TBA’s intent in authoring the bill. The response has been overwhelmingly positive in support of HB 1293 and the proposed changes.

Does the TBA board unanimously support HB 1293? – The TBA board passed a resolution in support of HB 1293. There were two dissenting votes.

Why do inspection requirements in HB 1293 refer to “pests” rather than reportable pests? – From 131.001 (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.” From 131.001 (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.” Note that the two definitions are very different. To be a pest it must be causing damage AND deleterious. To be a reportable pest it must be a threat and designated as reportable. Hence, the different wording that is used in the inspection and reporting requirements sections.

What prevents the listing of Apis mellifera scutellata as an unwanted species of bees? – The Chief Apiary Inspector would need to consider A.m. scutellata as both deleterious and reportable to be considered an unwanted species of bee. Hence, it is the judgment of the Chief Apiary Inspector, the director of AgriLife Research to whom he/she reports, and if a quarantine is issued, then the appeal process under Section 131.022 (d) which provide a reasonableness test to the listing process. Note – Apis mellifera scutellata was previously listed as an unwanted (sub) species of in both Texas and the U.S. It has since been de-listed and there are no current plans by the TAIS to re-list it.

How would testing hives for Apis mellifera capensis be accomplished? – All samples would be sent to the USDA labs for confirmation. No samples would be sent to the Rangel lab at Texas A&M University as they are not a regulatory entity.

Why are non-Apis species included in HB 1293? Why not exclude natives? – One of the goals of HB 1293 is to provide regulatory flexibility for the unknown and unknowable. Again, that species of bee must both be considered deleterious by the Chief Apiary Inspector and be reportable under Section 131.025. Hence the same reasonable test as in the A.m. scutellata question would apply.

What disease or pest problem is commonly vectored via queen sales? – Historical problems were American foulbrood and Africanized honey bees. Current problems are American Foulbrood and, for shipments out of country, Varroa mites.

Why are Texas bee producers held to stricter rules on queen and package sales than out of state sellers shipping into the state? – There is no requirement under the current Chapter 131 laws for imported queens and packages that are being shipped directly to the buyer from an out of state seller to include an inspection certificate from the state of origin. Chapter 131 does require that producers of packages and queens or sellers of packages and queens to have either a valid inspection or provide an affidavit.

How does HB 1293 guarantee that fees will stay within reasonable reach of a 26-hive operation? – The State of Texas is moving away from specifying fees within their statutes and instead leaving them to the rulemaking process. When HB 1293 passes, the Chief Apiary Inspector will need to promulgate rules, fees, and forms to be used in the implementation of the new laws. She/he has two requirements on how the fees are set and both are contained in Section 131.010. ” FEES. 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.”

Were local associations given notification and opportunity to influence this bill? – Chris Moore, TBA President, stated that at TBA Annual Meetings attendees had the opportunity to volunteer to be a part of a committee to write legislation to update Section 131 of the Texas Agriculture Code. Local association officers and other attendees would then shoulder the responsibility for further transmitting that request to others in their local association.

Can TBA actually say that they hope HB 1293 is enforced specifically to the letter as written? – TBA took the lead in authoring the legislation and received technical assistance from the Texas Apiary Inspection Service. In that sense, both the regulator and the regulated are in agreement on the words of HB 1293.

Is TBA claiming to represent its membership when it speaks out in support of HB 1293? – The elected officers and board members of TBA are acting in accord with the duties of their offices in the support of HB 1293. The TBA has passed a resolution in support of HB 1293. Individual beekeepers are always welcome to voice their thoughts and opinions through appropriate channels. TBA leadership have worked with TBA members for over two years to do the best they could to represent the membership. The membership passed resolutions in 2014, 15, and 16 to pursue revisions to Chapter131. TBA leadership presented a proposed bill to the membership for a review and comment period in 2014 and incorporated the comments from that time period into this version of the bill. TBA leadership sought out and incorporated the perspectives of all sizes of beekeepers.

You are negotiating amongst highly opinionated, free thinking people that have stories of abuse by authorities in the past. They see undefined fees as a greedy government bureaucrats, etc. A conversation such as an appeal board with a beekeeper, the bee inspector, and a non-involved citizen could help. It could be promised as a change this year or in two years? – Thanks for your comment. This will be included in the list of items for the next TBA legislative committee to consider for the 2019 legislative cycle. The TBA committee which drafted the legislation looked at many options for review and appeal processes. Legislatively setting up administrative boards, processes for making appointments to boards, processes for administrative hearings are very complex and expansive procedures and reach into legal areas outside of Chapter 131.

We need a meeting with veterinarians about AFB/EFB and antibiotics. – Thanks for your comment. We’ll pass it along to the Texas Apiary Inspection Service for them to open the discussion. TAMU Extension is currently working with TAIS to educate veterinarians on honey bees and antibiotics. A video is being developed and once completed will be posted to the TAIS website as well as relevant TAMU Extension sites.

 

 


4 Replies to "Delegates Meeting Q and A"

  • Cynthia Schiotis
    March 1, 2017 (10:26 am)
    Reply

    Mr Dennis Herbert, (Ag exemption expert) brought up the point in the winter meeting of the danger of losing Ag exemptions for Beekeepers if we refer to them as “hobbyists”. A much better term for beginning Beekeepers or hobbyists would be “small scale Beekeepers”. This ensures in the future that they will still qualify for the Ag exemption. The Ag officers do not regard hobbyists as qualifying for any Ag exemptions.

    • Roger Farr
      March 1, 2017 (5:54 pm)
      Reply

      Ms. Schiotis,

      The term “hobbyist” does not appear in the current law or in HB 1293. The term is used generally in the industry to describe a beekeeper with generally fewer than 25 hives.

      The language in HB 1293 is specifically, ” a beekeeper with an annual average of fewer than 25 colonies or nuclei is exempt…”

      In crafting TBA’s materials in support of HB 1293 the term “hobbyist” seemed to be better understood than to say ” those beekeepers with an annual average of fewer than 25 colonies or nuclei…”

      Your point is well taken in light of the agricultural exemption issue. We will start to use the term “small-scale beekeepers” in future materials.

      Regards,

      Roger Farr
      TBA Director

  • Mary-Ann Allen
    March 14, 2017 (2:43 pm)
    Reply

    Mr. Farr, In regards to: “a beekeeper with an annual average of fewer than 25 colonies or nuclei is exempt…” If bees are owned by a family of four (over the age of 12) who are all actively involved in keeping the bees, does that mean they can own up to 100 hives and still be considered a small scale operation?

  • Mary-Ann Allen
    March 14, 2017 (2:49 pm)
    Reply

    What provisions are there for beekeepers who want to manage their hives without the use of chemical treatments or those who would like to see a natural expansion of the genetics associated with the varroa sensitive hygiene traits, or traits associated with genetics that allow for natural survival of honey bees in an environment where there are varroa mites? What provisions/protections are there for false accusations of pests, diseases, and inappropriate seizure/destruction of apiaries?


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