(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Nelson Albano, Robert Andrzejzak and Marlene Caride to support New Jersey’s growing apiary industry “beekeeping” was released by an Assembly panel on Monday.
Sponsors note that rapid growth of commercial beekeepers in the state over the last seven years has prompted the need for statewide regulation.
“New Jersey’s beekeeping industry is expanding rapidly,” said Albano (D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “This legislation provides bee farms the recognition they deserve and the same protections as other commercial farms in the industry.”
Two of the bills expand protections and streamline regulations for breeding and keeping of honeybees or related activities.
The first bill (A-4261) would extend the Right to Farm Act protections to commercial beekeepers by including in the definition of “commercial farm” a farm management unit that is a beekeeping operation producing honey or other agricultural or horticultural apiary-related products, or providing crop pollination services, worth $2,500 or more annually. The second bill (A-4262) directs the Department of Agriculture to regulate apiary activities in the State and adopt any rules or activities to do so. Albano, Andrzejzak and Caride are each sponsors of these both bills.
“We want to encourage honeybee farming and see it expand in New Jersey,” said Andrzejzak (D-Cape May, Atlantic, Cumberland). “With support from the state’s agriculture department, this industry will have access to the resources and support it deserves to thrive in this state.”
Caride and Albano are also sponsors of a bill (A-4263) that would establish a civil penalty of up to $500 for each offense when a person intentionally destroys a man-made native bee hive. Under the bill, a man-made native bee hive is defined as a tube or other apparatus in which native bees may nest, which is installed to attract native bees. A native bee is defined as a species native to the State that does not produce honey, but that provides for the pollination of crops or plants, or other agricultural, environmental or horticultural benefits.
“Honeybee farms have a long history in this state,” said Caride (D-Bergen, Passaic). “We’ve seen substantial growth in this industry in recent years which underscores its commercial demand. In addition, a healthy bee population is necessary to protect not only our beekeeper industry, but also our fruit and vegetable industry. Failure to properly protect New Jersey’s honey bee population puts bee colonies valued in excess of $.2.5 million at risk while simultaneously risking our state’s nearly $200 million worth of annual fruit and vegetable production. These measures ensure proper governance, protection and penalty as it relates to beekeeping and manmade bee hives.”
All three measures were released from the Assembly Agriculture Committee. ?