(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride, Adam Taliaferro and John McKeon to protect pollinating bees from pesticide exposure and help address the decline in New Jersey’s bee population was released Monday by an Assembly panel.
The decline in New Jersey’s honey bee population has been steady and has even surpassed the national average. Nationwide, honeybee deaths average 33 percent a year, according to a media report. This year, 41 percent of New Jersey’s bees were lost. This continued decline could have a major impact on the state’s agricultural industry which relies heavily on these pollinators.
“New Jersey’s main crops rely on honeybee pollination. If the bee population in New Jersey continues to dwindle, it could have a severe impact on the state’s agricultural industry,” said Caride (D-Bergen/Passaic). “By taking preventive measures to limit the exposure of pesticides on these pollinators, we can help prevent these losses and help ensure that the industry continues to thrive.”
The first bill (A-3398), sponsored by Caride and Taliaferro, would require pesticide applicators to notify beekeepers when they are applying pesticide within three miles of a registered honey or native beehive or beeyard. Under the bill, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) would have to adopt regulations allowing beekeepers to register their honey or native beehives or beeyards with the department. Beekeepers would have to register by March 1 every year.
Under existing regulations, N.J.A.C.7:30-9.11, apiarists may register their apiaries with the DEP, and pesticide applicators are required to notify apiarists prior to applying pesticide products that may be toxic to bees within three miles of a registered apiary. However, the term “apiary” is generally understood only to refer to honey bees. It is the intent of this legislation to codify and expand the existing registration and notification regulations to native beehives and beeyards.
The second bill (A-3400), sponsored by Caride, Taliaferro and McKeon, would require the Commissioner of Environmental Protection to establish a basic training course for pesticide applicators and operators concerning the use of pesticides with respect to pollinating bees.
“This decline in our bee population threatens food production and the livelihood of our farmers,” said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “These steps will help limit exposure to these toxic substances to ensure bees can continue their important role in our food production.”
“Bees are vital to some of the state’s major crops. Their preservation is paramount,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “Providing this training can help protect these small, but critically important creatures that are so important to our food production and our agricultural industry.”
The bills were released by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.