A joint oversight hearing was held to discuss the threat to California agriculture from the widespread loss of honey bees. Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas), chair of the state Assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee, said, “California’s agriculture depends on pollination by honey bees. The potential loss of bees is important for all of us who rely on agriculture for our jobs as well as our food supply.” Added Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton),
chair of the Agriculture Committee, “Bees are vital to our economy and the food security of the nation.”
Gabriele Ludwig, ABC’s associate director of Environmental Affairs, testifying before the committees, noted that the Almond Board has funded research on bees for nearly 20 years, and on the basis on that research, she identified the two changes that would most benefit honey bee health as better forage and nutrition, and a way to control the Varroa mite, which was a message conveyed by most presenters.
Also presenting testimony was Gordon Wardell of Paramount Farms who spoke about Paramount Farms’ practices to protect bees and to make almonds the safest crop for bees.
Other presenters included Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, as well as several scientists, beekeepers and allied industry members. The consistent message given to the Environmental Safety and Agriculture Committees was the complexity of this issue, the need for all stakeholders to work together, and the importance of funding for continued research and extension. The two committees will take the information obtained at the hearing to determine how to move forward to protect honey bees.