Greetings, fellow Texas beekeepers and friends,
Some have tried to create a tempest over my testimony before the Senate Ag Committee. On March 11th, before heading to bee yards to stock mating nucs, I was given the chance to give my opinion of changes to make or aspects to keep in SB 677. I was given only 2 minutes to speak (like others who chose to forgo work and travel to the capital to speak) about several changes I suggested. One of the changes I cared about was a proposed change regarding free beekeeper registration for one class of beekeeper.
The Lone Star Beekeeping Association (with a handful of members) was sponsoring a change in the law to give beekeepers a free ride who register to comply with laws allowing them to perform structural bee removals, mandating that TAIS not assess a fee for that exemption.
To me, paying zero fees to TAIS for the privilege of registering and gaining free, state agency-sponsored promotion is not equitable. If the TAIS is to be a user supported agency that is funded in part by fees assessed for TAIS inspections, permits and registration then I think anyone registering with the Apiary Inspection Service should pay their fair share of program costs, regardless of their purported reason for registering.
Equally important, I recommended to the Committee that the registration requirement apply to all apiaries, but not necessarily beekeepers. Why? Because when (not if!) antibiotic resistant paenibacillus larvae emerges and American foulbrood (AFB) again becomes the scourge it was before oxytetracycline and subsequently tylan was available, then Apiary Inspectors need to know where managed colonies are located. The same applies when (not if!) another unwanted pest or pathogen appears, and threatens honey bee colonies.
Some critics of my position on registration, have seized on one articulation of my recommendation where I misspoke and put my recommendation backwards. I corrected my misstatement and if you listen to my entire testimony my intent is clear. Subsequent discussions with Senators confirmed that they understood my point.
Of course, you are free to disagree with me and I always welcome reasonable discussion. However, I won’t remain quiet when people mischaracterize my position and then fraudulently pretend to be a customer of BeeWeaver and post negative reviews and false statements on social media and.
In my opinion, if we are going to have an Apiary Inspection service then it should have the information to do the job of protecting managed colonies and beekeepers. I have kept bees in many states across this country for many years, shipped queens and package bees interstate and internationally, and mandatory apiary registrations are not inherently evil. If all Apiaries were registered and mapped (but only TAIS, and third parties who agreed to treat apiary location information as secret) then many useful innovations might be possible - like requiring pesticide applicators to warn beekeepers if spraying was to occur near registered apiaries. ***UPDATE: THE TEXAS HOUSE PASSED A VERSION OF SB 677, WITH SECTION 131.045(e): THIS PLACES FEES ON REGISTERED BEEKEEPERS, BUT ONE GROUP GETS A FREE RIDE. PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE REGISTERING SOLELY TO COMPLY WITH EXCEPTION ALLOWING ANYONE DOING BEE REMOVALS TO AVOID STRUCTURAL PEST CONTROL LICENSE WON'T PAY A FEE. WE OBJECT TO THIS EXCEPTION FOR ONE CLASSIFICATION OF BEEKEEPER.***
Nonetheless a few people who care nothing for the truth and want only to harm BeeWeaver and me have deliberately attempted to mislead Texas Beekeepers about what I advocated. Their attempt to persuade others to boycott our company is obviously intended to impose economic penalties on my company for articulating principled positions they happen to disagree with. Thankfully, reasonable and attentive people see through that attempt to defame and slander us for exercising our right to speak about political issues we care about.
Thanks for listening, and as I have for decades, I will continue to volunteer my time in support of the beekeeping industry and health of honey bees.
President and Co-Owner of BeeWeaver Honey Farm
Dan Weaver’s Apiculture, Beekeeping and Honey Industry Leadership
Honey Bee Genome Sequencing Consortium, Co-coordinator
Honey Bee Genome Advisory Committee, Founding member
North American Pollinator Protection Campaign, Steering Committee, 2009-2012
Pollinator Partnership, Honey Bee Health Task Force Co-Chair, 2008-2012
American Beekeeping Federation, Inc., President, Vice-President and Executive
The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, Director and Chairman
USDA Advisory Boards, including original task force on Colony Collapse Disorder
Texas Beekeepers Association, President, Vice-President and Executive Committee
National Honey Board Nominations Committee, Chairman
Texas Africanized Honey Bee Advisory Council, Member