Historic Bee Supplier, BeeWeaver, Takes a Stand on HB1293

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FROM BEEWEAVER APIARIES

Dear All,

We don’t typically solicit fellow beekeepers and/or customers to support or oppose specific political positions or urge them to contact their representatives and speak out on proposed legislation, but we’ve learned of a bill that has been introduced in the current Texas legislative session that directly affects beekeepers – so we’re alerting you to that development and expressing our deep concern with the potential impact of this bill as proposed.

We encourage you to acquaint yourselves with HB 1293. There is a claim by some that this is bill was endorsed by the Texas Beekeepers Association, when in fact the TBA Board never voted to approve the bill or the amended statutory language prior to bill’s introduction.  More than that, the bill’s proponents adamantly refused to share the proposed language of the bill with the TBA membership at the last annual meeting in November, 2016, though promised to do so before the bill was introduced.  That promised public notice never occurred either. The TBA is supposed to be a democratic organization, but this process was not democratic and violated the TBA’s own governance procedures. For these reasons alone this bill, as written, should be defeated.

More than that, while we recognize that the Texas Bee Law needs to be changed, the language in HB 1293 is substantively flawed, so much so that we believe it must be amended extensively, or else defeated.

You can find documents discussing HB 1293, developed by a group that has emerged in opposition to HB 1293, at savetexasbeekeepers.org, You will find a document showing you why the bill is problematic, and an outline of what might be done to rectify the current problems with the Bee Law as written and fix HB 1293, too. We urge you take time to reflect on this pending legislation.  If you find these developments and this legislation as alarming and objectionable as we do, then please contact your Texas State Representative and Texas Senator, and speak out in opposition to HB 1293 as currently written.

For Bees and their Keepers,
Laura & Danny Weaver
BeeWeaver Apiaries

The Failure of Texas Ag Code Chapter 131

 

Texas Ag Code Chapter 131 sets out provisions for regulating Bees and Honey. This section is characterized by a register-inspect-quarantine-treat/destroy regime that has failed Texas Beekeepers from the start.

Registration under current law is voluntary and free. Registration is currently used for appearing “official” in two regards. First, land owners are frequently required to register the hives on their land in order to establish ag valuation for ad valorum property taxes. The registration is one way in which county appraisal districts can defer to a state agency, in this case Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) for the purpose of recognition of ag use of properties. Second, the registration is required for Texas Master Beekeeper Candidates for official recognition of their activities in beekeeping. Both uses are somewhat arbitrary.

Bee inspections in Texas are focused on disease and pest identification and management. Historically, inspectors usually focused, as they should, on commercial operations that sell queens, packages or nucs, and commercial pollinators – those perceived as having a high risk to vector disease. For instance, large shipments of bees from out of state arrive on trucks in quantities of approximately 400 each. Their potential to vector disease results from 1) their high numbers, and 2) their migratory nature and concomitant exposure to diseases from a variety of ecologies across the entire continent. Nevertheless, these migratory, commercial pollinators currently vector very little disease into the state as their hives are heavily and frequently treated for disease and pests.

Resident beekeepers are occasionally inspected and the results are similar to migratory operators. Economic realities force these operators to carefully monitor and treat their hives.

Hobby beekeepers are seldom inspected as part of the state inspection program, but any beekeeper may request an inspection. These requested inspections require a fee (currently $75) and the results are dramatically higher levels of disease and pests. According to TAIS, for example, the average mite counts for commercial or sideliner operations is 1.8-1.9 mites per hundred bees. The same metric for hobby beekeepers was 5.7, approximately 3 times the level of professional beekeepers.

The mere idea of a quarantine of honey bees is absurd. Bees can not be confined to a geographic area of course, because they’re free to fly. When they forage they will encounter and/or spread whatever diseases or communicable pests that are present in the local ecology. It is also pointless to “quarantine” managed bees when they are surrounded by high densities of feral colonies that will vector any disease or pest around the managed colony quarantine.

This point can not be over emphasized. A leading entomologist at Texas A&M University has written, “As someone who has worked with invasive species my entire career, I can’t think of a single instance where a quarantine stopped the spread of any invasive insect or plant.” He also recognized that feral bees play a critical role in vectoring any pest or disease around “quarantined” managed colonies. “…when Africanized bees first were detected in the State I would have argued vehemently against any quarantine effort. It would not stop Africanized bees and it would only waste resources [and]…feral populations of bees in some parts of the state are more dominant than managed bees.” This was exactly what happened with Africanized bees in Texas. These costly and damaging measures must be considered in the context of efficacy, cost to beekeepers, and benefit to the state.

The bee inspector also has the power to order treatment or destruction of hives, and this authority goes hand-in-hand with quarantines. Despite inspector-ordered destruction of thousands of colonies, this dangerous and economically devastating measure has never stopped the spread of invasive honey bee pests such as varroa and tracheal mites. Occasionally American Foulbrood (AFB), a highly transmissible bacterial infection of honey bees is identified and a hive ordered destroyed by inspectors. The apiary is quarantined and reinspected after treatment. The result of this regime, combined with the economic realities of commercial beekeepers, is that AFB cases are carefully monitored and treated before an inspector can make such a discovery. Professional beekeepers, like every other animal husbandry activity, are perfectly capable to monitoring and treating these routine disease cases without the state supervision. Abandoned hives infected with AFB may warrant a bee inspector’s intervention, but feral colonies remain impossible to inspect, treat, or destroy. The inevitable result is that AFB will persist in the honey bee population.

Current law authorizing the seizure and destruction of hives has been abused egregiously in the past. A former Chief Apiary Inspector ordered thousands of hives destroyed in a futile effort, justified by the inspector as necessary to keep Varroa mites out of Texas. A subsequent quarantine imposed by a former bee inspector when a beekeeper advised the inspector of the presence of small hive beetles in Texas caused economic damage to the beekeeper who was forced to identify his live bee products (nucs and packages) as produced in a SHB infested apiary. Did this quarantine and destruction of bees protect Texas from SHB or Varroa? Of course not. They are ubiquitous now as they were then. Was the law applied equally to all beekeepers found with SHB or Varroa? No. Was the declaration of SHB as a dangerous pest or the declaration of a quarantine reviewed by any expert panel? Was it deleterious to beekeeping in Texas? Are we still issuing quarantines for this pest? No, no, no.

The regime of register-inspect-quarantine-destroy has failed for every imaginable pest in the past, and, according to experts, it is likely to fail for every pest in the future. No disease or pest of the honey bee has been halted or contained in Texas. As we’ve already seen, SHB are everywhere in Texas. African Honey bees spread their influence across the greater portion of the entire state, stopped only by climate/ecology in some regions. The Varroa mite is in every colony in North America, managed or feral. Nosema is common in Texas. Section 131 has failed in each of these introductions.

HB 1293 seeks to expand upon this complete failure with more registration, more inspection, and additional authority to declare quarantines and destruction. Along the way, the bill adds non-honey bees to the authority of an ag inspector.

The declaration of disease and pest should be made by experts after consideration of complicated factors in ecology. A single state official should not possess the power to destroy a business. As with the case of SHB, a single inspector may be badly wrong in his determination. HB 1293 does not provide such oversight by experts or accountability of the Chief Inspector.

The mission statement of TAIS says

“The mission of the Texas Apiary Inspection Service is to safeguard the apiary industry of Texas through the application of science-based regulations, educational opportunities and open communication with the industry.”

HB 1293 does not reflect science-based regulations. It builds upon decades of failed policy, while adding costs and interference to beekeeping in Texas.

Could Texas Ag Code adversely affect Native Bees?

Texas House Representative Tracy O. King of Uvalde County has introduced a bill in the current legislative session that affects changes to the portion of the Texas Agriculture Code that regulates beekeeping.  The proposed changes were filed on January 25 of this year in the form of House Bill 1293.

I believe that H.B. 1293 has the potential to have a significant negative impact on Texas native bee species.

You wouldn’t expect a revision to the state agricultural code on beekeeping to have an adverse impact on pollinators. In fact, most beekeepers are quick to tell you that what’s good for honey bees is good for native bees, and vice versa. They’re right… and yet this bill seems to imply otherwise.

Section 131.001, subdivision 17, defines “Unwanted species of bees” as “a species of bees, including a non-Apis species of bees, that is considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector and that must be reported under Section 131.025.”

First off, unwanted bees? I’m sure that surprises most of us. We probably know that many US bee species are facing major difficulties. Seven Hawaiian species made the endangered list last year. The protected status of the Rusty Patched Bumble Bee has already made headlines repeatedly in 2017. Nesting site loss, limited forage availability, monoculture farming, agricultural insecticide usage, mosquito spraying, climate change… all of this is hitting our native pollinators, and hitting them hard. We need to preserve our native bees.

Well, before we go any further, let’s just talk for a minute about the implications of “non-Apis” in this bill. The genus Apis includes all species and subspecies of the honey bees, and is placed under Texas Apiary Inspection Service jurisdiction by the definition of “bee” (Section 131.001 subdivision 4). So between these two definitions every single bee in Texas is under the jurisdiction of a department responsible for regulating and safeguarding the keeping of honey bees. All of our native bees are “non-Apis species of bees”. Bumble bees, mason bees, leafcutter bees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, digger bees, cactus bees, squash bees, longhorned bees, cuckoo bees, sunflower bees… all under Texas Apiary (root: Apis) Inspection Service control. How odd.

So what did the bill intend to address with the “unwanted species of bees” definition? I’ve spoken with members of the committee who worked on this bill before it went to Mr. King’s office. They say this is intended to address the Cape Bee, a honey bee from South Africa with a tendency to be parasitic on other honey bee hives. Not only is the Cape Bee an Apis species, but it’s actually a subspecies of the Western Honey Bee… as such, it could not be listed as an unwanted species without disallowing all of the honey bees in Texas. I’ve spoken with a TAIS official who confirmed this. The only conceivable positive use of this definition would be to attempt to prevent the influx of some invasive non-Apis bee species into Texas… my understanding is that there is no cause to think any such situation is likely. Even if it were, why would we expect invasive species issues to be regulated by the agency that is responsible for the agricultural keeping of honey bees? There is no reason to think an invasive species of non-Apis bee would have any more impact on beekeeping than our native species do.

Are Texas native bee species “deleterious” to the keeping of honey bees? Common sense would say no. Every beekeeper you ask will say no. But regulatory measures should be written to be able to address the worst case scenario. In conservation situations we frequently refer to this less-than-optimistic mindset as the precautionary principle. So the question is, if someone wanted to use the wording in this bill and make the legal argument that our native bees are deleterious to apiculture, could they? Unfortunately, I’m concerned the answer may be yes. On a most obvious level, bees do compete for floral resources; there is a limited amount of pollen and nectar to gather. What is picked up by one bee is not there for the next. I commonly hear people with an interest in preserving our native bees mention this argument as a downside to the presence of the non-native honey bee. It’s not crazy to think someone might attempt to apply this reasoning in reverse.

Also, pest and disease problems in bee populations are known to spread from their primary hosts to other species kept in close proximity. Traditionally American beekeepers battled many pests and diseases in their hives that had long been problems for Apis mellifera, the Western honey bee. In recent years we’ve battled more virulent opponents as pests and diseases have jumped species boundaries in search of new hosts. Varroa mites have plagued the beekeeping industry since they crossed to our bees from their primary host in Asia. If you ask the TAIS what they fear will be the next big pest issue in American beekeeping, they’ll probably tell you Tropilaelaps parasites… also jumping from another primary bee host to Apis mellifera hives in other parts of the world as we speak. Nosema diseases have crossed species lines as well. Our natives may be less likely than some to share diseases with honey bees, but deformed wing virus does exist in both honey bee and bumble bee populations. Bumble bees are the primary host for Nosema bombi, which is transmitted via shared floral resources but has not yet shown any ability to spread to honey bees. Hopefully the transmission of diseases and pests between these species will never be a concern, but as more American beekeepers get into management of mason bees, leafcutter bees, and bumble bees, it’s not ridiculous to be concerned that crossover issues may occur in both directions. I would hope that the preservation of our native species would always be a top priority as we move forward, and it’s scary to imagine a future where there’s even the slightest hint of a possibility that native species would be destroyed or eradicated (Section 131.022) due to some negative impact or perceived threat to the keeping of honey bees.

Even if you are willing to assume that these bees actually being listed as deleterious is simply a scenario beyond reason and beyond possibility I’m concerned that there’s a negative impact from the wording in this bill. It could be read by uninformed new beekeepers who will see the implication that non-Apis species are unwanted, even if they haven’t been listed as such. This wording solves no known problem; it accomplishes nothing other than sitting there looking bad in print. It’s a black eye to Texas beekeeping to have “unwanted bees” in our ag code, especially with “non-Apis” in the definition. The beekeepers around me care intensely about native pollinator preservation, and this makes us all look like we don’t.

Chapter 131 Comparison With & Without H.B. 1293

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Current
Texas Ag Code Chapter 131
Chapter 131
With H.B. 1293 Implementation
SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter: <unchanged>
   
(1) “Abandoned apiary, equipment, or bees” means an apiary, equipment, or a colony of bees that is not regularly maintained or attended in accordance with this chapter or rules or quarantines adopted under this chapter. <unchanged>
(2) “Apiary” means a place where six or more colonies of bees or nuclei of bees are kept. (2) “Apiary” means a place where colonies of bees or nuclei of bees are kept.
(3) “Beekeeper” means a person who owns, leases, or manages one or more colonies of bees for pollination or the production of honey, beeswax, or other by-products, either for personal or commercial use. (3) “Beekeeper” means a person who owns, leases, possesses, controls, or manages one or more colonies of bees for any personal or commercial purpose.
(4) “Bee” means any stage of the common honeybee, Apismellifera species. (4) “Bee” means any stage of a member of the genus Apis.
(5) “Colony” means the hive and its equipment and appurtenances including bees, comb, honey, pollen, and brood. (5) “Colony” means all of the bees living together as one social unit and may include the hive and its appurtenances including bees, brood, comb, honey, and pollen.
(6) “Director” means the director of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. (6) “Director” means the director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research.
(7) “Disease” means American foulbrood, European foulbrood, any other contagious or infectious disease of honeybees, or parasites or pests that affect bees or brood. (7) “Disease” means American foulbrood, any other disease of honey bees, or parasites that affect bees or brood and that are considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector.
(8) “Equipment” means hives, supers, frames, veils, gloves, tools, machines, or other devices for the handling and manipulation of bees, honey, pollen, wax, or hives, including, storage or transporting containers for pollen, honey, or wax, or other apiary supplies used in the operation of an apiary or honey house. (8) “Equipment” means hives, supers, frames, veils, gloves, tools, machines, vacuums, or other devices for the handling and manipulation of bees, honey, pollen, wax, or hives, including storage or transporting containers for pollen, honey, or wax or other apiary supplies used in the operation of an apiary or honey house.
  (8-a) “Hive” means a container or structure used by a beekeeper to provide a cavity in which a colony of bees is expected to establish a permanent nest.
(9) “Inspector” means the chief apiary inspector. <unchanged>
(10) “Label” as a noun, means written or printed material accompanying a product and furnishing identification or a description. The term includes material attached to a product or its immediate container and material inserted in an immediate container or other packaging of a product. <unchanged>
(11) “Label” as a verb, means to attach or insert a label. <unchanged>
(12) “Nucleus” means a small mass of bees and combs of brood used in forming a new colony. <unchanged>
  (12-a) “Package” means live bees in cages without combs or honey used in forming a new colony.
  (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.
(13) “Pollen” means dust-like grains formed in the anthers of flowering plants in which the male elements or sperm are produced. <unchanged>
(14) “Pure honey” means the nectar of plants that has been transformed by, and is the natural product of, bees and that is in the comb or has been taken from the comb and is packaged in a liquid, crystallized, or granular form. <unchanged>
(15) “Queen apiary” means an apiary in which queen bees are reared or kept for sale, barter, or exchange. Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
  (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.
  (17) “Unwanted species of bees” means a species of bees, including a non-Apis species of bees, that is considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector and that must be reported under Section 131.025.
   
Sec. 131.002. CHIEF APIARY INSPECTOR. <unchanged>
   
(a) The director shall appoint a person qualified by scientific training or personal experience as chief apiary inspector to make inspections and administer this chapter under the direction and control of the director. <unchanged>
(b) Repealed by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 1st C.S., ch. 17, Sec. 7.01(4), eff. Nov. 12, 1991. <unchanged>
(c) The state entomologist shall make an annual report to the director giving a detailed account of inspection activities, receipt and use of funds, and compliance actions brought under this chapter. <deleted>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 479, Sec. 186, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., 1st C.S., ch. 17, Sec. 7.01(4), eff. Nov. 12, 1991.  
   
Sec. 131.003. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST. <unchanged>
   
(a) A person may not serve as chief apiary inspector or be an assistant of the inspector if the person is an officer, employee, or paid consultant of a trade association in the beekeeping industry. <unchanged>
(b) A person may not serve as chief apiary inspector or be an assistant of the inspector of the grade 17 or over, including exempt employees, according to the position classification schedule under the General Appropriations Act, if the person cohabits with or is the spouse of an officer, managerial employee, or paid consultant of a trade association in the beekeeping industry. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.004. ASSISTANTS. <unchanged>
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector may employ assistants and inspectors as necessary, subject to the approval of the director and governing board of the experiment station. (a) The chief apiary inspector may employ assistants and inspectors as necessary, subject to the approval of the director.
(b) The inspector shall provide to his assistants as often as is necessary information regarding their qualifications under this chapter and their responsibilities under applicable laws relating to standards of conduct for state officers or employees. <unchanged>
(c) The inspector shall develop a system of annual performance evaluations based on measurable job tasks. All merit pay for the inspector’s assistants must be based on the system established under this subsection. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.005. ANNUAL REPORTS. <unchanged>
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall make an annual report to the director giving a detailed account of inspection activities, receipt and use of funds, and compliance actions brought under this chapter. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall make an annual report to the director giving a detailed account of all activities, receipt and use of funds, and compliance actions brought under this chapter.
   
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 1083 (S.B. 1179), Sec. 25(4), eff. June 17, 2011. <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.006. AUDIT. <unchanged>
   
The financial transactions of the chief apiary inspector are subject to audit by the state auditor in accordance with Chapter 321, Government Code. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. Amended by Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 584, Sec. 68, eff. Sept. 1989.  
   
Sec. 131.007. PUBLISHING INFORMATION. Sec. 131.007. PUBLIC INFORMATION.
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall publish information on methods and directions for treating, eradicating, or suppressing infectious diseases of honeybees, the rules adopted for those purposes, and other information that the inspector considers of value or necessity to the beekeeping interests of this state. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall publish information and present educational programs on methods and directions for treating, eradicating, or suppressing diseases and pests of honey bees and unwanted species of bees, the rules adopted for those purposes, and other information that the inspector considers of value or necessity to the beekeeping interests of this state.
(b) The inspector shall prepare information of public interest describing the functions of the agency and describing the procedure by which complaints are filed with and resolved by the inspector. The inspector shall make the information available to the general public and appropriate state agencies. <unchanged>
(c) The inspector shall adopt rules establishing methods by which consumers and service recipients can be notified of the name, mailing address, and telephone number of the inspector’s office for the purpose of directing complaints to the inspector. The inspector may provide for the notification by including the information: <deleted>
(1) on each registration or application form submitted by a person regulated under this chapter; <deleted>
(2) on a sign which is prominently displayed in the place of business of each person regulated under this chapter; or <deleted>
(3) in a bill for services or goods provided by a person regulated under this chapter. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.008. COMPLAINTS. <unchanged>
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall keep an information file about each complaint filed with the inspector relating to a beekeeper regulated under this chapter. <unchanged>
(b) If a written complaint is filed with the inspector relating to a beekeeper regulated under this chapter, the inspector shall notify the parties to the complaint, at least quarterly and until final disposition of the complaint, of the status of the complaint, unless notice would jeopardize an undercover investigation. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.009. PUBLIC TESTIMONY. <unchanged>
   
The chief apiary inspector shall develop and implement policies that will provide the public with a reasonable opportunity to appear before the inspector and to speak on any issue under the jurisdiction of the inspector. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.010. FEES. Sec. 131.010. FEES.
   
The chief apiary inspector shall make a reasonable effort to set the fees charged under this chapter at amounts that will produce enough revenue to approximate 50 percent of the inspector’s total budget. In achieving this goal, the inspector shall balance the revenue needs against the effect of the fees on the industry. 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.
Added by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
SUBCHAPTER B. DISEASE CONTROL SUBCHAPTER B. DISEASE AND PEST CONTROL
   
Sec. 131.021. POWERS AND DUTIES OF CHIEF APIARY INSPECTOR. <unchanged>
   
(a) For the purpose of enforcing this chapter, the chief apiary inspector may: <unchanged>
(1) adopt rules and act as necessary to control, eradicate, or prevent the introduction, spread, or dissemination of contagious or infectious diseases of bees; (1) adopt rules and act as necessary to control, eradicate, or prevent the introduction, spread, or dissemination of diseases, pests, or unwanted species of bees;
(2) prohibit the shipment or entry into this state of bees, honey, combs, pollen, or other items capable of transmitting diseases of bees from another state, territory, or foreign country except in accordance with rules adopted by the inspector; and (2) prohibit the shipment or entry into this state of bees, honey, combs, pollen, or other items capable of transmitting diseases, pests, and unwanted species of bees from another state, territory, or foreign country except in accordance with rules adopted by the inspector;
(3) seize and order the destruction, treatment, or sale of a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey that is determined to be diseased, infectious, abandoned, or in violation of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter. (3) seize and order the destruction or treatment of a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey that:
  (A) is determined to be diseased or infectious;
  (B) contains unwanted species of bees or pests; or
  (C) is in violation of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter; and
  (4) seize and order the destruction, treatment, or sale of a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey that is determined by the inspector to be abandoned.*
(b) For purposes of this section, apiaries, equipment, or bees are considered infectious if: (b) For purposes of this section, apiaries, equipment, or bees are considered infectious if:
(1) the bees are not hived with movable frames or stored so as to prevent the possible spread of disease; or (1) the bees are not hived with movable frames or not stored so as to prevent the possible spread of disease or pests; or
(2) the bees, equipment, or apiary generally comprise a hazard or threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry. (2) the bees, equipment, or apiary generally comprise a hazard or threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.022. QUARANTINES. **
   
(a) If the chief apiary inspector determines that the public welfare requires the establishment of a quarantine, the inspector may: (a) If the chief apiary inspector determines that public welfare or protection of the beekeeping industry requires the establishment of a quarantine, the inspector may:
(1) declare a protective quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees or a deleterious exotic species of bees is not known to exist or in which the disease or exotic species is being eradicated in accordance with this subchapter; or (1) declare a protective quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees, a pest of bees, or an unwanted species of bees is not known to exist or in which the disease, pest, or unwanted species of bees is being eradicated in accordance with this subchapter; or
(2) declare a restrictive quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees or a deleterious exotic species of bees is located. (2) declare a restrictive quarantine of a district, county, precinct, or other defined area in which a disease of bees, a pest of bees, or an unwanted species of bees is located.
(b) A person may not move or ship bees, equipment, pollen, or honey into or out of an area quarantined under this section, except in accordance with rules adopted by the inspector. <unchanged>
  (c) On request from a beekeeper, the inspector may grant an exemption to a quarantine imposed under this section. The inspector may adopt rules for submitting requests and granting exemptions under this subsection.
  (d) A beekeeper directly affected by a quarantine imposed under this section may petition the director for a review of the inspector’s quarantine order or the inspector’s denial of the beekeeper’s request for exemption under Subsection (c). The request must be in writing and filed with the director not later than the 30th day after the date the quarantine is initiated or the beekeeper receives notice that the exemption request is denied, as applicable.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.023. SALE OF QUEEN BEE AND ATTENDANTS, PACKAGE BEES, AND NUCLEI. **
   
A person may not sell or offer for sale a queen bee and attendant bees, package bees, nuclei, or queen cells in this state unless the bees are accompanied by: (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a person may not sell or offer for sale a queen bee and attendant bees, package bees, colonies, nuclei, or queen cells in this state unless the bees are accompanied by a certificate of inspection that certifies that the bees are apparently free from disease and pests based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the sale.
  (b) This section does not apply to a person who annually sells less than:
  (1) a total of 25 queen bees, packages of bees, colonies, and nuclei; and
  (2) 100 queen cells
   
(1) a copy of a certificate from the chief apiary inspector certifying that the apiary from which the queen bee was shipped has been inspected not more than 12 months before the date of shipment and found apparently free from disease; or <deleted>
(2) a copy of an affidavit made by the beekeeper stating that: <deleted>
(A) to his knowledge, the bees are not diseased; and <deleted>
(B) the honey used in making the candy contained in the queen cage has been diluted and boiled for at least 30 minutes in a closed vessel. <deleted>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.024. SEIZURE OF BEES, EQUIPMENT, POLLEN, OR HONEY.  
   
(a) Bees, equipment, pollen, or honey seized by the chief apiary inspector under Section 131.021 of this code shall be treated, destroyed, or sold at public auction. <unchanged>
(b) At least five days before an item seized under Section 131.021 of this code may be treated, destroyed, or sold, the inspector shall send by certified mail, return receipt requested, written notice of the proposed disposition of the item to the last known address of the beekeeper or the owner of the item. The notice must describe the item, the proposed disposition of the item, and the reason for the disposition. If the name or address of the beekeeper or owner of the item is unknown, the inspector shall: (b) Before an item seized under Section 131.021 may be treated, destroyed, or sold, the inspector shall provide written notice of the proposed disposition of the item to the beekeeper or the owner of the item in the manner provided by Subsection (b-1) or (b-2). The notice must describe the item, the proposed disposition of the item, and the reason for the disposition.
(1) publish notice of the proposed disposition for at least five consecutive days in a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was seized; or (b-1) The inspector shall, not later than the fifth day before the proposed disposition date:
(2) post notice of the proposed disposition for at least five consecutive days in three public places, including the door of the county courthouse, in the county where the property was seized. (1) send written notice to the beekeeper’s or owner’s last known address by first class mail and by certified mail, return receipt requested; and
  (2) provide written notice to the beekeeper or owner by:
  (A) hand delivery;
  (B) process server delivery; or
  (C) next-day delivery through the United States Postal Service or a similar service.
  (b-2) If the name or address of the beekeeper or owner of the item is unknown, the inspector shall, not later than the fifth day before the proposed disposition date:
  (1) publish notice of the proposed disposition in at least one issue of a newspaper of general circulation in the county where the property was seized; or
  (2) post notice of the proposed disposition on the door of the county courthouse or at another location designated for public notices in the county where the property was seized.
(c) If the inspector sells bees, equipment, pollen, or honey at a public auction under this section, the inspector shall return the proceeds of the sale to the former owner after deducting the costs of the sale. (c) If the inspector sells bees, equipment, pollen, or honey at a public auction under this section, the inspector shall return the proceeds of the sale to the former owner, if known, after deducting the costs of the sale.
(d) The owner of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey treated or destroyed under this section is liable for the costs of treatment or destruction, and the inspector may sue to collect those costs. The inspector shall remit money collected under this subsection to the comptroller for deposit to the credit of the general revenue fund. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 2.12, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.  
   
Sec. 131.025. DUTY TO REPORT DISEASED BEES. Sec. 131.025. REPORTABLE DISEASES AND PESTS; UNWANTED SPECIES OF BEES **
   
If a beekeeper knows that a colony of bees is diseased, the beekeeper shall immediately report to the chief apiary inspector all facts known about the diseased bees. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall maintain and publish:
  (1) a list of reportable diseases and reportable pests; and
  (2) a list of unwanted species of bees.
  (b) If a beekeeper knows that a colony of bees has a reportable disease or contains a reportable pest or an unwanted species of bee, the beekeeper shall immediately report to the chief apiary inspector all facts known about the situation.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
SUBCHAPTER C. PERMITS AND REGISTRATION <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.041. PERMIT FOR IMPORTATION. Sec. 131.041. PERMIT FOR INTERSTATE MOVEMENT **
   
(a) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped bees or equipment into this state unless the person has a permit issued by the chief apiary inspector authorizing the shipment. (a) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped bees or equipment into or out of this state unless the person has a permit issued by the chief apiary inspector authorizing the shipment.
(b) A person may apply for a permit under this section by filing an application with the inspector before the 10th day preceding the date of the shipment. An application for a permit must include: (b) A person may apply for a permit under this section by filing an application with the inspector. A person may apply for a permit at any time, but a person must apply for a permit before the 10th day preceding the date of the shipment if the person does not hold a permit on that date. An application for a permit must include all information required by the chief apiary inspector.
(1) a complete description of the shipment; (b-1) A permit issued under this section applies to all shipments made by the beekeeper and expires on August 31 following the date the permit is issued.
(2) the destination of the shipment; (b-2) For a shipment originating outside this state:
  (1) a certificate of inspection signed by the official apiary inspector or entomologist of the state, territory, or country from which the bees are to be shipped is required before the shipment may enter the state; or
  (2) the chief apiary inspector of Texas must have inspected the shipment not more than 12 months before the date of the shipment.
(3) the approximate date of the shipment; <deleted>
(4) the names and addresses of the consignor and consignee; and <deleted>
(5) a certificate of inspection signed by the official apiary inspector or entomologist of the state, territory, or country from which the bees are to be shipped. <deleted>
(c) A certificate of inspection for a permit required by Subsection (b)(5) of this section must certify that the bees or equipment are apparently free from disease based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the shipment. If the bees or equipment are to be shipped into this state from a state, territory, or country that does not have an official apiary inspector or entomologist, the person shipping the bees or equipment may provide other suitable evidence that the bees and equipment are free from disease. (c) A certificate of inspection for a permit required by Subsection (b-2) must certify that the bees or equipment are apparently free from disease and pests based on an actual inspection conducted not more than 12 months before the date of the shipment. If the bees or equipment are to be shipped into this state from a state, territory, or country that does not have an official apiary inspector or entomologist:
  (1) the person shipping the bees or equipment may provide other suitable evidence that the bees and equipment are free from disease and pests; or
  (2) the bees may be shipped into this state under quarantine and the person receiving the shipment shall have the bees inspected not later than the 30th day after the date the bees enter this state.
(d) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (b) of this section and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit authorizing the shipment. (d) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (b) and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease or pest control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit authorizing the shipment.
(e) This section does not apply to a shipment of live bees in wire cages without combs or honey. (e) This section does not apply to a shipment of package bees.
  (f) The inspector shall charge a fee for each permit issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
  (g) An individual who is exempt from registration under Section 131.045 is exempt from the permit fee charged under Subsection (f).
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.042. PERMIT FOR EXPORTATION. <deleted>
   
(a) A person who ships bees or equipment from this state to another state, territory, or country may apply to the chief apiary inspector for a permit authorizing the shipment. The application must include: <deleted>
(1) a complete description of the shipment; <deleted>
(2) the destination of the shipment; <deleted>
(3) the approximate date of the shipment; <deleted>
(4) the names and addresses of the consignor and consignee; and <deleted>
(5) evidence that the shipment is apparently free from a disease of bees. <deleted>
(b) The inspector shall accept as evidence that a shipment is apparently free from disease either: <deleted>
(1) a certificate of inspection issued under Section 131.044 of this code; or <deleted>
(2) an affidavit by the beekeeper or owner of the bees or equipment stating that to his knowledge, the bees or equipment are free from disease. <deleted>
(c) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (a) of this section, and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit for the shipment. <deleted>
(d) The inspector shall charge a fee for each permit issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than $50. Additional copies of each permit issued under this section shall be available from the inspector for a reasonable fee set by the inspector at not less than $10. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.043. PERMITS FOR INTRASTATE SHIPMENT. <deleted> **
   
(a) A person may not ship or cause to be shipped bees or equipment between counties in this state unless the person has a permit issued by the chief apiary inspector authorizing the shipment. <deleted>
(b) A person may apply for a permit under this section by filing an application for a permit with the inspector before the 10th day preceding the date of shipment. An application for a permit must include: <deleted>
(1) the name, address, and telephone number of the beekeeper; <deleted>
(2) a complete description of the bees or equipment to be moved; <deleted>
(3) the number of intercounty movements anticipated; <deleted>
(4) the destination of each shipment; and <deleted>
(5) the approximate date or dates of movement. <deleted>
(c) If a person files an application in accordance with Subsection (b) of this section and the inspector is satisfied that the shipment does not pose a threat to disease control in the beekeeping industry, the inspector shall issue a permit authorizing the shipment. <deleted>
(d) The inspector shall charge a fee for each permit issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than $25. <deleted>
(e) An individual who owns not more than 12 colonies of bees is exempt from the permit fee charged under Subsection (d) of this section. <deleted>
(f) A permit issued under this section entitles the permittee to move the bees or equipment between the designated counties during the state fiscal year in which the permit was issued. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.044. CERTIFICATE OF INSPECTION. <unchanged>
   
(a) A person who wants a certificate of inspection for bees, equipment, pollen, or honey must file a written request for the inspection with the chief apiary inspector. (a) A person who wants a certificate of inspection for bees, equipment, pollen, or honey must request the inspection from the chief apiary inspector.
(b) On receipt of a request, the inspector shall authorize the inspection of the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey for the presence of disease. (b) On receipt of a request, the inspector shall authorize the inspection of the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey for the presence of disease, pests, and unwanted species of bees.
(c) If a disease is not found in the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey, the inspector shall certify in writing that the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is apparently free from disease. (c) If no disease, pest, or unwanted species of bee is found in the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey, the inspector shall certify in writing that the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is apparently free from disease, pests, and unwanted species of bees.
(d) The inspector shall charge fees for inspections requested under this section. The inspector shall set the fees in amounts that are reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than the following amounts: (d) The inspector shall charge fees for inspections requested under this section. The inspector shall set the fees in amounts that are reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
(1) for each inspection of an apiary or group of apiaries, except a queen apiary, located within an area of 100 square miles………………………………………… $ 50 <deleted>
(2) for an inspection of a queen apiary or group of queen apiaries located within an area of 100 square miles……… $200 <deleted>
(3) for each additional inspection of a queen apiary or group of queen apiaries located within an area of 100 square miles …………………………………………………. $ 50. <deleted>
(e) The beekeeper of diseased bees or equipment shall pay an additional fee, in a reasonable amount set by the inspector at not less that $25, for each subsequent inspection that the inspector determines is necessary to contain, treat, or eradicate the disease. (e) The beekeeper of diseased bees or of equipment that contains a pest or an unwanted species of bee shall pay an additional fee, in a reasonable amount set by the inspector, for each subsequent inspection that the inspector determines is necessary to contain, treat, or eradicate the disease, pest, or unwanted species of bee.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.045. APIARY REGISTRATION. Sec. 131.045. BEEKEEPER REGISTRATION. ***
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector may provide for the periodic registration of all apiaries in this state. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (d), each beekeeper in this state shall annually register with the chief apiary inspector. A registration under this section expires August 31.
(b) A registration must include:  
(1) the beekeeper’s name, address, and telephone number; (1) information required by the chief apiary inspector; and
(2) the county or counties in which the apiary will be located; and (2) the county or counties in which the beekeeper operates.
(3) the approximate dates that the apiary will be located in each county. <deleted>
(c) The inspector may require a beekeeper to submit with the registration information a map showing the exact location of each of the beekeeper’s apiaries. A map submitted under this section is a trade secret under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be disclosed. (c) The inspector may require a beekeeper to submit with the registration information a map showing the exact location of each of the beekeeper’s apiaries. A map submitted under this section is a trade secret under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may not be disclosed.
  (d) A beekeeper with an annual average of fewer than 25 colonies or nuclei is exempt from mandatory registration under this section but may voluntarily register.
  (e) The chief apiary inspector shall charge a fee for each registration issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 76, Sec. 5.95(88), eff. Sept. 1, 1995.  
   
Sec. 131.046. DISPOSITION AND USE OF FEES.  
   
(a) Fees collected under this subchapter shall be deposited in the State Treasury to the credit of a special fund to be known as the bee disease control fund to be used only to defray the costs of administering and enforcing this chapter. (e) The chief apiary inspector shall charge a fee for each registration issued under this section. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section.
(b) The chief apiary inspector may sue to collect a delinquent fee under this subchapter. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
SUBCHAPTER D. BRANDING AND IDENTIFICATION OF APIARY EQUIPMENT SUBCHAPTER D. BRANDING AND IDENTIFICATION OF HIVES
   
Sec. 131.061. IDENTIFICATION REQUIRED. **
   
A person may not operate an apiary in this state unless the apiary equipment is: (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a:
(1) clearly and indelibly marked with the name and address of the person; or (1) clearly and permanently marked with the name of the person as provided by Section 131.064;
(2) branded in accordance with Section 131.064 of this code with a brand registered to the person by the chief apiary inspector. (2) branded in accordance with Section 131.064 with a brand registered to the person by the chief apiary inspector; or
  (3) identified by a weatherproof sign posted within the apiary containing the name and contact information or the brand number of the person managing the apiary, printed in lettering at least one inch high.
  (b) An apiary at the principal residence of a beekeeper is exempt from the requirements of Subsection (a).
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.062. BRAND; REGISTRATION. <unchanged>
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall maintain a system of registration of apiary equipment brands to identify equipment used by a beekeeper in an apiary. (a) The chief apiary inspector shall maintain a system of registration of beekeeper brands to identify equipment used by the beekeeper. The inspector shall assign a brand number to each beekeeper when the beekeeper registers under Section 131.045.
(b) Each brand shall consist of three numbers separated by hyphens, with the first number signifying that the brand is a state-registered brand, the second number identifying the registrant’s county of residence, and the third number identifying the registrant. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985. <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.063. REGISTRATION OF BRAND; FEE. <deleted>
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector shall register a brand for each person who applies for a brand and pays a recording fee. The inspector shall set the fee at an amount that is reasonable in relation to the costs of administering this section, but at not less than 50 cents. <deleted>
(b) The inspector shall remit money collected under this section to the comptroller for deposit to the credit of the bee disease control fund. <deleted>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 2.13, eff. Sept. 1, 1997.  
   
Sec. 131.064. AFFIXING BRAND TO EQUIPMENT. Sec. 131.064. MANNER OF AFFIXING NAME OR BRAND TO HIVES . **
   
A registrant shall affix the registered brand to his or her apiary equipment by burning or pressing the brand, in figures at least three-quarters of an inch high, into the wood or other material in a manner that shows the identification of equipment. The registrant shall affix the brand on one or both ends of the hive. On other equipment, including a frame, intercover, top, bottom, or plank, the registrant may affix the brand in any place. A name or brand must be affixed to a hive by burning, pressing, painting, or otherwise permanently marking the name or brand, in figures at least one-half of an inch high, into the wood or other material in a manner that shows the identification of the hive. The name or brand must be affixed on one or both ends of the hive.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
Sec. 131.065. TRANSFER OF BRAND. <unchanged>
   
(a) A brand may be transferred only if: <unchanged>
(1) the chief apiary inspector approves the transfer; and <unchanged>
(2) the transferor is selling all of the transferor’s bees and equipment to the person to whom the brand is to be transferred. <unchanged>
(b) If a brand is to be transferred, the seller shall give a bill of sale for the bees and equipment that shows the seller’s brand. <unchanged>
(c) A person may sell an individual piece of branded equipment, but the brand is not transferred to the buyer. If the buyer of the equipment has a brand, the buyer shall affix the buyer’s brand below the brand of the prior owner. (c) A person may sell an individual piece of branded equipment, but the brand is not transferred to the buyer. If the buyer of the equipment has a brand, the buyer shall affix the buyer’s brand above or below the brand of the prior owner.
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
SUBCHAPTER E. LABELING AND SALE OF HONEY <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.081. USE OF “HONEY” ON LABEL. <unchanged>
   
A person may not label, sell, or keep, offer, or expose for sale a product identified on its label as “honey,” “liquid or extracted honey,” “strained honey,” or “pure honey” unless the product consists exclusively of pure honey. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
Sec. 131.082. USE OF BEE, HIVE, OR COMB DESIGN. <unchanged>
   
A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that resembles honey and that has on its label a picture or drawing of a bee, hive, or comb unless the product consists exclusively of pure honey. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
Sec. 131.083. SALE OF IMITATION HONEY. <unchanged>
   
A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that resembles honey and is identified on its label as “imitation honey.” <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
Sec. 131.084. SALE OF HONEY MIXTURES. <unchanged>
   
(a) A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that consists of honey mixed with another ingredient unless: <unchanged>
(1) the product bears a label with a list of ingredients; and <unchanged>
(2) “honey” appears in the list of ingredients in the same size type of print as the other ingredients. <unchanged>
(b) A person may not label, sell, or keep, expose, or offer for sale a product that contains honey mixed with another ingredient and contains in the product name “honey” in a larger size of type or print or in a more prominent position than the other words in the product name. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
SUBCHAPTER F. ENFORCEMENT <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.101. ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITY. <unchanged>
   
The chief apiary inspector is the official responsible for enforcing Subchapters B, C, and D of this chapter. The Texas Department of Health is the agency responsible for enforcing Subchapter E of this chapter. The chief apiary inspector is the official responsible for enforcing Subchapters B, C, and D. The Department of State Health Services is the agency responsible for enforcing Subchapter E.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.102. ENTRY POWER. <unchanged>
   
(a) The chief apiary inspector may enter at a reasonable hour any public or private premises, including a building, depot, express office, storeroom, vehicle, or warehouse, in which bees, equipment, pollen, or honey may be located to determine whether a violation of Subchapter B, C, or D of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. <unchanged>
(b) The Texas Department of Health may enter at a reasonable hour any public or private premises, including a building, depot, express office, storeroom, vehicle, or warehouse, in which bees, equipment, pollen, or honey may be located to determine whether a violation of Subchapter E of this chapter has occurred or is occurring. (b) The Department of State Health Services may enter at a reasonable hour any public or private premises, including a building, depot, express office, storeroom, vehicle, or warehouse, in which bees, equipment, pollen, or honey may be located to determine whether a violation of Subchapter E has occurred or is occurring.
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 5, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.103. STOP-SALE ORDER. <unchanged>
   
If the official or agency responsible for enforcing a provision of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter has reason to believe a colony of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is in violation of the provision, the official or agency may issue a written order to stop the sale of the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey. When the official or agency issues a stop-sale order, the official or agency shall deliver a copy of the order to the person who possesses the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey. On receipt of the copy of the order, a person may not sell or transport the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey until the official or agency that issued the order determines that the items are in compliance with this chapter. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
Sec. 131.104. CIVIL ACTIONS. <unchanged>
   
(a) The official or agency responsible for enforcing a provision of this chapter or a rule or quarantine adopted under this chapter may sue to enjoin a violation or threatened violation of the provision and may maintain other civil actions necessary to enforce this chapter. <unchanged>
(b) On the request of the official or agency suing under this section, the attorney general or a county or district attorney shall represent the official or agency in the civil action. <unchanged>
(c) A sheriff or constable shall protect the officers or employees of the official or agency in the discharge of the duties given to the official or agency by this chapter. <unchanged>
(d) The official or agency is not required to give bond or other security in a legal proceeding instituted or defended under this chapter in a court of this state. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
Sec. 131.105. VENUE FOR CIVIL AND CRIMINAL ACTIONS. <unchanged>
   
Venue for a civil or criminal prosecution under this chapter is in the county where the affected group of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey is located at the time the violation is discovered by or made known to the official or agency. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  
   
SUBCHAPTER G. PENALTIES <unchanged>
   
Sec. 131.121. DISEASE CONTROL. Sec. 131.121. DISEASE AND PEST CONTROL.
   
(a) A person commits an offense if the person: (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) violates a provision of Section 131.022 or 131.023 of this code; (1) violates a provision of Section 131.022 or 131.023;
(2) fails to report diseased bees in accordance with Section 131.025 of this code; (2) fails to report reportable diseases, reportable pests, or unwanted species of bees in accordance with Section 131.025; **
(3) ships or causes bees or equipment to be shipped into this state or between counties in this state without the permit required by Section 131.041 or 131.043 of this chapter; (3) ships or causes bees or equipment to be shipped into this state without the permit required by Section 131.041; **
(4) violates a rule, order, or quarantine of the chief apiary inspector adopted under this chapter; (4) violates a rule, order, or quarantine of the chief apiary inspector adopted under this chapter;
(5) prevents or attempts to prevent an inspection of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey under the direction of the inspector under this chapter; (5) prevents or attempts to prevent an inspection of bees, equipment, pollen, or honey under the direction of the inspector under this chapter;
(6) prevents or attempts to prevent the discovery or treatment of diseased bees; (6) prevents or attempts to prevent the discovery or treatment of reportable diseases, reportable pests, or unwanted species of bees; **
(7) interferes with or attempts to interfere with the inspector in the discharge of the duties under this chapter; (7) interferes with or attempts to interfere with the inspector in the discharge of the duties under this chapter;
(8) as the owner or keeper of a diseased colony of bees, barters, gives away, sells, ships, or moves diseased bees, equipment, pollen, or honey or exposes other bees to the disease; (8) as the owner or keeper of a colony of bees that has a reportable disease, a reportable pest, or an unwanted species of bee, barters, gives away, sells, ships, or moves the bees, equipment, pollen, or honey or exposes other bees to the reportable disease, reportable pest, or unwanted species of bee; **
(9) exposes honey, pollen, hives, frames, combs, bees, or appliances known to be diseased in a manner that provides access to bees; or (9) exposes honey, pollen, hives, frames, combs, bees, or appliances from a colony of bees known to have a reportable disease, a reportable pest, or an unwanted species of bee in a manner that provides access to other bees; **
(10) sells, offers for sale, barters, gives away, ships, or distributes honey or pollen taken from a colony of diseased bees. (10) sells, offers for sale, barters, gives away, ships, or distributes honey or pollen taken from a colony of bees that has a reportable disease or a colony of bees that contains a reportable pest; or **
  (11) fails to register with the chief apiary inspector as required by Section 131.045. ***
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. <unchanged>
(c) All fines collected under this section shall be depositedin the state treasury. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 6, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.122. APIARY EQUIPMENT BRANDS. Sec. 131.122. IDENTIFICATION **
   
(a) A person commits an offense if the person: (a) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) violates Section 131.061 of this code; or (1) violates Section 131.061; or
(2) alters or attempts to alter a registered apiary equipment brand without authorization from the chief apiary inspector. (2) alters or attempts to alter a registered brand without authorization from the chief apiary inspector.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor. <unchanged>
(c) Each of the following is prima facie evidence of an offense under this section: <unchanged>
(1) unauthorized possession of equipment on which the brand has been altered; <unchanged>
(2) possession of branded equipment without a bill of sale or written proof of ownership; or <unchanged>
(3) use of a registered brand that is not registered to the person using the brand. <unchanged>
Added by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 418, Sec. 7, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.  
   
Sec. 131.123. LABELING OR SALE OF HONEY. <unchanged>
   
(a) A person commits an offense if the person violates a provision of Subchapter E of this chapter. <unchanged>
(b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor. <unchanged>
Amended by Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 1884, ch. 350, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1983.  

* This numbering may be a formatting error.** These sections take affect after September 1, 2017 and former law applies until that date.*** These sections take affect after September 1, 2018All other sections take affect after September 1, 2017

The Chilling Impact of HB 1293 on Small Business

In 2015 I left my work in the oil field. While it was voluntary at the time, it may have become involuntary had I waited – it’s no secret the oil patch is seeing tough times. My small beekeeping operation is what allowed me to stay afloat during this period. I run a small honey production operation in the Coastal Bend of Texas.

If you keep more than a dozen or so colonies, you know that it’s hard work. Making a living selling honey by the bottle is tough, much tougher than I anticipated. That’s exactly why I oppose HB 1293.

From a small business point of view, this bill creates additional burdens on small and growing beekeeping enterprises. Registration will be come more rigorous and costly. My ability to expand into queen sales will be hindered by added government fees and intrusive inspections. The chief inspector will be given great power to declare common and ordinary pests “reportable pests” and is given the ability to order the destruction or treatment of affected colonies. To add insult to injury, TAIS will have the power to send me a bill for this.

TBA tells me to “use common sense” and that “he would never do that.” I’d like that in writing please. Fees will be reasonable. Pest declarations will be reasonable. Disease declaration will be reasonable. The law does not follow common sense. Only the plain language of the law matters, and this law comes with few, if any, restrictions on these critical declarations. Once declared, they are not subject to significant review.

The existing law requires very little from Texas Beekeepers. Registration is superficial at best, because it’s unnecessary. Cattle operations are not registered. Breeding heifers are not required to be inspected prior to sale. Inspections of set-down beekeeping operations, too, are sparse, and again, unnecessary. Indeed, all of the existing rules have been ineffective. Despite quarantines and moving permits, Africanized bees have spread across the greatest portion of Texas. Despite these measures, the small hive beetle spread to every corner of Texas. Varroa mites, of course spread everywhere unchecked. Nosema is common here. There has simply been no significant bee disease contained or stopped by registration and inspections of Texas beekeepers.

HB 1293 adds an odd twist to the purview of the chief inspector: that of “non-apis” species of bees. It is unfathomable that we would put an agriculture inspector in charge of hundreds of species of native bees with limited or no commercial value. Certainly the environmental advocates will not allow this when they catch wind of the inspectors power to declare these native, non-apis species “unwanted species of bees.”

TBA tells us that this “non-apis” language takes aim at the Cape Honeybee from South Africa. This is absurd in the extreme. A 7th grade biology student could explain that Apis mellifera capensis (the Cape Honeybee) is clearly not a “non-apis” species. It’s right in the name! This is a particularly puzzling part of the proposed law. When pressed, I’ve also been told it was for exotic species of bees like the Asian Honeybee (Apis Cerana, in case you wonder) or native stingless bees from South or Central America, bees that have lived there for millennia.

HB1293 is also a generous gift to the hobby beekeeper. The vast majority of all hobby beekeepers will be exempt from all but a few of the rules, as they should be, as we all should be. Ironically, hobby beekeepers suffer significantly higher levels of bee disease and loss than bigger operations. By some data sets, hobby beekeepers suffer losses approaching 80% annually. But the reality is that hobby beekeepers simply aren’t numerous enough to vector significant disease in the state. A big reason they can’t do so is not just their numbers, but the fact that they stay put and don’t transport bees (or disease and pests) over any significant distance, a big requirement to threaten the industry on a regional or state-wide basis.

HB 1293 adds a requirement for queen breeders to pay for and suffer annual inspections. This is also absurd. The idea that tiny numbers of bees (a queen and a few attendants) will vector disease across the industry is impossible. Queen breeding operations are necessarily among the cleanest in the entire world-wide industry. One simply can not breed saleable queens in anything less than top notch breeder colonies.

I will close with two points along the same lines. “Sideliner” operations, those with fewer than 400 hives, are similar to hobby keepers in that they seldom transport bees. These set-down, honey operations, are limited in size by the beekeeper’s serviceable area. These operations typically see fewer disease and pest problems for a variety of reasons. Foremost, those threats can be devastating to such a small operation, so they are closely monitored or the business will quickly fail. The ability of these beekeepers to closely monitor colony health is paramount to protecting these fragile businesses. This self-inspection is a regular routine when your livelihood depends on healthy colonies. Significantly, this entire class of beekeepers (25-400 hives) is completely ignored in the HB1293.

Set-down beekeepers also retain the ability to practice comprehensive IPM techniques that reduce the need for hive treatments. These IPM practices contribute to low disease, low pest, and low loss rates among these operations. Indeed, a few of these 400 or less operations have abandoned expensive chemical treatments entirely, and continue to maintain strong, healthy bee operations.

I ask hobby beekeepers to consider the burden this proposal adds to growing a small beekeeping business. Although you’re given a great exemption, others who depend on their bees will interrupt their business with inspections and suffer the financial set-back of added (and unspecified) fees. Before you support this proposal, think about how tough it would be to grow your own apiary to 50 hives, or 150. The work, the cost, the time. And then weigh that burden against the risk that is minimal.

HB1293 does not address any real problem in Texas. The rules it keeps are ineffective. The rules it adds are unnecessary. The power it gives to one official is too broad and without sufficient review. It does not reflect any real threats to beekeeping in Texas. Take a careful look at the proposal and consider the small businesses that are struggling to make it in a tough industry. TAIS should focus on commercial pollinators with potential to bring disease into Texas. The small set-down operators here are vulnerable to that risk, not the other way around. We pose little risk to “the industry.”

HB1293 is a costly expansion of a law that has proven itself ineffective. I oppose the bill because it will hurt my small business and yield no positive results. I encourage you to read the side-by-side version of the bill and see how similar the structure is: register-inspect-quarantine. It’s a system that has failed each time in Texas: SHB, Varroa, AHB. Let’s not add more cost to a failed system.

Thank you for taking the time to consider our positions here.

Mandatory Registration of Feral Bees?

Surely not, right?

HB 1293 effectively mandates annual beekeeper registration for anyone owning more than 400 acres. This is due to the definitions of “hive” and “colony”. Let me explain.

According to HB1293 a “Hive” means a container or structure used by a beekeeper to provide a cavity in which a colony of bees is expected to establish a permanent nest. So far, so good. It’s clear that the intention here is to prevent someone who has bees move into their wall from falling under the regulatory aspects of Chapter 131. If the rest of the bill was well-written it would do that.

But then we see that “Colony” means all of the bees living together as one social unit… without regard to whether they are in a container provided by a beekeeper for said purpose. And “Beekeeper” means a person who owns, leases, possesses, controls, or manages one or more colonies of bees. This means that despite the positive clarification of the word “hive” you are still legally a beekeeper if you possess bees living in your walls. You are technically subject to the same requirements, restrictions, and penalties that a person with “hives” is.

Now it’s easy to look at this and think that at least you’re not required to abide by the mandatory annual registrations and associated fees, right? Because nobody has 25 colonies of bees living in the walls of their home. But in fact under HB 1293 it no longer matters how many colonies are in any given location…. “A beekeeper with an annual average of fewer than 25 colonies or nuclei is exempt from mandatory registration”. What this means is that according to the wording of this bill, if you own enough property to have a cumulative 25 feral colonies of bees living on your properties you find yourself subject to mandatory annual registration forms and fees as a non-exempt beekeeper, and if you don’t do this you are theoretically subject to the penalties provided for a failure to register.

So how much property would that take? I heard Dr. Rangel from the Texas A&M Honey Bee Lab give a talk recently that addressed studies of feral bees in South Texas. The study (here) that she was referring to showed that feral bee hives were found at a density of about one hive per 15 acres. Based on this data, one might expect to find 25+ feral hives on any property larger than 400 acres. While we can safely assume this is extremely unlikely to be explored or enforced, it’s just another example of the way this bill is written… relying on TAIS to have the common sense to adjust for the fact that the bill is indistinctly worded and totally unenforceable on numerous levels.

Chapter 131 needs an update, but it needs an update that is carefully planned, carefully worded, & enforceable as written. Failure of common sense is what creates a need for regulation, so we should not be passing regulations written in such a way as to be dysfunctional without common sense.

More Fallacies in Support of 1293

Texas Beekeepers Association released a new wave of information and disinformation in support of HB 1293 today. I don’t think we can even assume it’s all honest ignorance anymore… the fallacies just keep coming. They continue to post “facts” that we’ve pointed out to them are not factual, and we even see them contradicting themselves from one page to the next in the name of selling us on HB1293. So let’s take a closer look.

#1) First off, they are sticking to their guns on the idea that Chapter 131 was last updated in 1983. They have it in an extra-large font this time… “Existing Bee Laws… last updated in 1983“, they claim. As noted in the “Myths” post below, this is easily disproven by reading the current Chapter 131, which shows amendments in 1984, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1997, and most recently in 2011. You would expect them to at least resort to pointing out that these were minor changes… they were. I’ve been pointing out the inaccuracy of this statement to them for weeks now. But instead we see them pushing the fallacy and counting on their members not to read the law. By all means… READ THE LAW. READ THE BILL.
Remember, if you read the version provided on the TAIS site it will not show the most recent amendment. TBA is still sending people to the 1997 version as well; I suppose this helps push the “look how out of date it is” argument. The link on the main page of this site will lead you to the actual current version. (edit: the links to the outdated 131 on the TAIS site have since been removed and replaced in response to this posting)

#2) TBA’s own information on the current 131 says “A person may not sell or offer for sale a queen bee and attendant bees, package bees, nuclei, or queen cells in Texas unless the bees are accompanied by a certificate from the Chief Apiary Inspector stating that the apiary is free of disease, or an affidavit made by the beekeeper that the bees are not diseased.”
Yet when they are trying to sell us on HB 1293 (here), they say “Sellers of fewer than 25 queen bees, packages, colonies, or nuclei, collectively in a year, or those who sell fewer than 100 queen cells, would no longer be required to have a certificate of inspection or pay associated fees.” Strange, since we all know that we are not currently required to have a certificate of inspection to sell bees.

#3) They also say (here) “The permits required for both intra- and inter-state movement will be simplified”… which is confusing… I can’t imagine this is deliberately misleading; it’s just written as carelessly as the bill itself. Section 131.043, permits for intra-state movements, is repealed under HB 1293. This is one of the few things I like about the bill. But it could not be more clear that we cannot count on TBA to write what they mean to write or understand what they’ve written.
They also take this chance to point out that if you’re a migratory hobbyist the new bill helps you out. This is mostly laughable, though I suppose some people do move to a new state and take a backyard hive with them.

#4) They originally claimed here that there were 60 TBA members involved in writing this bill. The email I got today claims 30 TBA members were involved in writing this bill. Then the link provided in that email takes me here, where they now claim that “more than 60” people were involved. Any of the above is a tiny number of beekeepers to represent our entire state, but I’m curious… how many people actually contributed to writing this bill? Are there actually even 30 people who will claim responsibility for this thing? Who are they?

The new TBA FAQ also reiterates a lot of other things we have addressed as false in previous posts here; we have specifically informed them of these fallacies, but they continue to try to use them to persuade people to support their pet bill. They still refuse to admit that Apis mellifera capensis is a subspecies rather than a species. They still refuse to read their bill with a legalistic mindset instead of telling us what they mean for it to say, so they still refuse to see the issue with saying “pests” when you mean “reportable pests”. If you haven’t read them yet, be sure to take a look at “Myths Being Used To Support HB1293” and “Some Problems With 1293“.

HB1293: TRUTH versus FICTION

It’s clear from the February 5th POST on the Texas Beekeepers Association website, that there is a difference of opinion between that poster interpretation the the interpretation of this author on what H.B. 1293 says.

Below illustrates the differences of these opinions.

TBA POST February 5th, 2017

This authors Interprestation

“The bill seems to be mostly housekeeping. Is that correct?”

There are many housekeeping changes to the existing beekeeping laws, last updated in 1983, to bring it up to the state of beekeeping in 2017. One example is that of “reportable pests.” In the existing law, ANY pest or disease of honeybees is to be reported to the Chief Apiary Inspector. This would include varroa mites, which we all have! The real intent is to make the Chief Apiary Inspector aware of pests and diseases which will have a real impact on beekeeping, such as the Foulbrood diseases or the most recently discussed Australian Sap Beetle, which is now in California.

Chapter 131 was last updated in 2011. Other updates were in 1985, 1989. 1991, 1993 &1997.

Beekeepers are required to report on their fellow beekeeper.

HB1293 continues to make it a violation of Chapter 131 if a beekeeper does not report a pest or disease that that beekeeper is aware of that his fellow beekeeper’s colony has. So much for beekeepers helping beekeepers.

 

“Will there be a mandate to treat hives if this legislation passes?”
– The only requirement to treat a hive would be if a quarantine is enacted by the Chief Apiary Inspector. This can only be done when the Chief Apiary Inspector has done their due diligence with regard to identification of the pest or disease to be treated. Unlike in the existing law, HB 1293 will give beekeepers the right to appeal any proposed quarantine.

It is assumed that the wording in red italics in
the left hand column was intended to have been written:

“This can only be done when the Chief Apiary Inspector has done his or her due diligence with regard to identification of the pest or disease to be treated.”

NO DUE DILIGENCE REQUIRED

HB1293 does not require any minimum amount of due diligence on the part of the Chief Apiary Inspector. That power to define a deleterious pest and order its destruction is given to a single individual without requiring proof it is deleterious. Further, HB1293 allows this list created by a single individual can be changed and altered on a daily basis at the discretion.

“What are some examples of unwanted species of bees?” The real threat here is from bees that are very different from the bees we keep, Apis mellifera mellifera. An example of unwanted bee species would be Apis mellifera capensis, or the South African Cape bee. These Cape bees can quickly parasitize an Apis mellifera mellifera colony causing great economic harm for the beekeeper. Once established in a colony of another Apis mellifera subspecies, Cape laying workers behave like cancer cells; rapidly reproducing and draining colony resources while offering no benefit to the host. Infected colonies eventually dwindle and die at which point the remaining Cape workers disperse to parasitize new host colonies.

This explanation fails to explain why the wording “Unwanted species of bees” means a species of bees, including a non-Apis species of bees” is needed.

Apis mellifera capensis is Sub-species of Apis mellifera.  Including the term non-Apis species of bees allows the Chief Apiary Inspector to declare native pollinators in competition with Apis mellifera to be declared deleterious.
Examples of non-apis species of bees are bumble bees & mason bees.

“Why are we just now hearing about this
legislation?”
– A subgroup of TBA members have been at work since the November 2015 annual meeting to draft proposed legislation. The work began in earnest in early 2016 when 60 TBA members who volunteered at the 2015 annual meeting, met to begin deliberations. By June of 2016 the group completed a draft of the legislation, however it still remained for legislative counsel to vet the draft and convert it to a form that could be submitted to the 2017 Texas legislature. Legislative counsel completed their work in late 2016 and the bill was finally filed and could be openly discussed in January 2017. Before then there was nothing that could be formally discussed. This was the issue at the November 2016 TBA Annual meeting; the bill was in draft form, awaiting final approval from legislative counsel.

This explanation to the left is written as if though the TBA would have you believe they were under some restraining order
or were disallowed by law from disclosing proposals submitted to legislative counsel.

While it is true that TBA wouldn’t discuss the proposals and even refused to do so at the 2016 TBA conference, this author
can’t help but wonder if the TBA was trying to hide what they knew would be controversial changes.

Myths Being Used To Support HB1293

Some of the myths being used to promote HB1293:
#1) “Chapter 131 hasn’t been updated since 1983.”
FALSE.
The current chapter 131 shows numerous amendments since 1983. By all means go look. Amendment years include 1984, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1997, & 2011.  Part of the confusion on this is that the TAIS website supplies an outdated version of 131 that leads you to believe the bill hasn’t been updated since 1997. (edit: the links to outdated 131 have since been rectified in response to objections)

#2) “Treatments may only be mandated in the case of a quarantine, which may only be declared after TAIS has done “due diligence” in identifying and understanding the problem.”
FALSE.
Treatments may be required as the Chief Apiary Inspector deems “necessary” for the public welfare. Bees, honey, equipment, and more may be treated, seized, or destroyed at the Chief Apiary Inspector’s discretion.

#3) “’Unwanted species of bees’ is intended to target the South African Cape Bee. We all keep Apis mellifera mellifera. These are two very different species of bee.”
FALSE.
We all keep the species Apis mellifera (Western Honey Bees), but it is totally inaccurate to claim that we all keep subspecies Apis mellifera mellifera (it is not even a very commonly kept race/subspecies in the USA). Most Texas stock is mutt races consisting of Apis mellifera ligustica, Buckfast, Russians, Apis mellifera scutellata, and more. The “South African Cape Bee” is Apis mellifera capensis… species Apis mellifera. Not really all that different from the bees we keep, though undesirable due to their tendency to invade other hives. The Cape Bee is not present in the US. Listing the Cape Bee by species as an unwanted species of bee would require listing Apis mellifera as unwanted, which of course is impossible. HB1293 as written does not allow for listing subspecies/races of bee as undesirable. What is the real goal of the bill in this regard? Why does it specifically allow for “non-Apis” species to be listed as unwanted if the intent was to list an Apis mellifera subspecies? This is either horribly written with a very poor understanding of taxonomy, or it is a blatant untruth to conceal another agenda.

#4) “HB 1293 is the result of a grassroots movement in Texas beekeeping to revamp outdated regulations.”
FALSE.
HB 1293 is the result of a small committee formed by Texas Beekeepers Association. Local beekeeping associations around the state were not notified. Participation was limited to people who attended TBA Fall Convention 2015. Meetings were in Bryan/College Station, and were announced last minute, so even many of the people who had signed up to participate were unable to attend. All information pertaining to details of HB 1293 was deliberately kept behind closed doors until after the bill was already filed. Even then no notification was provided to the public by the committee or the Texas Beekeepers Association until the complaints started to pour in responding to the publicly filed bill. This is a bill written privately behind closed doors by a very small subsection of Texas beekeepers.

#5) “The limit for exemption from the requirement for registration of hives is being updated from 6 to 25.”
FALSE.
The current 131 defines an apiary as 6 or more hives, but does not require registration of apiaries.  It allows for optional registration for free.  HB 1293 mandates annual registration for any beekeeper with 25 hives or more and establishes fees for said annual registration.

Some Problems with 1293

My name is Ryan Giesecke. I am a Texas Beekeepers Association member, active in my local associations, and a participant in the Texas Master Beekeeper Program. I run around 50 hives in the Dallas area, do a lot of educational work pertaining to bees and beekeeping, and perform live bee removals as well.

I strongly oppose HB1293 for the following reasons, addressed in greater detail below:
-it sets a pest threshold of zero (mites, hive beetles, etc) for hives to pass TAIS inspections
-it places Texas native bee species under TAIS jurisdiction and subject to destruction
-it mandates fee-based annual registration of beekeepers
-it mandates fee-based annual inspections of apiaries for queen-rearers
-it allows for any manner of state-wide mandated pest treatments
-it extends TAIS regulatory power from applying to a single bee species to encompassing thousands

Detailed Objections:
1) Healthy hives will be unable to reliably pass inspections.  Section 131.025 defines “reportable pests” as being based on a listing by the chief apiary inspector, but “pests” are defined in Section 131.001 Subdivision 12-B as “an insect, mite, or organism that causes damage or abnormality to bees and that is considered deleterious by the chief apiary inspector.” Section 131.044 on inspections refers to “pests” rather than “reportable pests”.  Since Section 131.044 requires that “no disease, pest, or unwanted species of bee” be found in the bees in order to pass an inspection, this sets an acceptable mite threshold of zero.  A modern IPM approach to mite control works off of an “economic threshold” acceptable mite count.  This approach to mite control, recommended by TAIS, TBA, and the A&M Honey Bee Lab, would prevent a hive from passing inspection if HB 1293 is approved and enforced as written.

2) Section 131.001 Subdivision 17 allows for the listing of “Unwanted species of bees” by species.  The desired target stated by the committee responsible for this bill (via the TBA Facebook) was Apis mellifera capensis, a subspecies of Apis mellifera.  To add A. m. capensis to the unwanted species list by species the chief apiary inspector would need to list “Apis mellifera”.  Subdivision 17 does not allow for the listing of subspecies, which would prevent the listing of the targeted A. m. capensis as unwanted.  It does, however, specifically allow the listing of non-Apis species, which theoretically allows the chief apiary inspector to list hundreds of Texas native bee species as apiculturally undesirable, suddenly putting them under TAIS jurisdiction and subject to eradication (Section 131.021).  One could point to diseases in our native bee population which could conceivably cross into our honey bee population as a reason for such actions; theoretically any bee that competes with Apis mellifera for nectar and pollen resources could be defensibly deemed deleterious to apiculture.  Common sense would imply that no chief apiary inspector would take such a stance, but none-the-less the bill as written allows for it.  All it would take is one government official leaving common sense behind; I’m not sure that never happens.  Mark will not always be the chief apiary inspector, and this bill should be written to protect against the possibility of someone unreasonable as his successor. Legal regulation should be written in a way that deals with situations where common sense has failed; it should not depend on common sense in order to be functional.

3) Registration is mandatory for a 25+ hive beekeeper (Section 131.045).  I have registered, but am opposed to mandatory registration for a stationary operation at any scale.  To the best of my knowledge no other form of agricultural animal husbandry other than fish farming in the state of Texas mandates registration with the state.  I don’t know why this should start now.  What problem is resolved by mandated registration over 25 hives?

4) Inspections are mandatory for someone selling 25+ queens (Section 131.023).  TBA says this in the name of preventing spread of pests and diseases.  Yet it seems there are no pest and disease problems which are primarily transmitted via queen cages; I have asked TAIS about documented instances of queen cages as a problematic vector for pests or disease without receiving any such documented examples. I have asked people on the TBA committee who told me that they are not aware of issues transmitted by queen cages, that these regulations are to address as-yet-unknown issues that may conceivably arise some day in the future.  It is regulation justified by the need to solve a non-existent problem. Under the current Section 131 inspections are not a requirement for selling queens. Furthermore, an entire package (complete with queen cage) coming in across state lines doesn’t need a certificate of inspection, but I need one to sell more than 25 queens to my neighbors.  This is regulation against the spread of disease that is applied against transactions within a county, but is not applied to transactions which cross state lines.
Of course inspections have to be done before you start selling, so as a small-scale sideliner you may spend money on inspections to sell queens and end up selling less than 25.  As a newcomer to queen rearing you may just be paying for the privilege of trying.  This is another obstacle to a small-scale beekeeper wanting to get into queen-rearing which serves no practical purpose aside from being that obstacle. These are regulations that widen the gap between small-scale and commercial beekeeping in a way that handicaps newcomers and small-scale sideliners considerably.

5) Allows for mandated state-wide pest and disease treatments.  Section 131.021, “may adopt rules and act as necessary to control, eradicate, or prevent the introduction, spread, or dissemination of diseases, pests, or unwanted species of bees”.  With so much evidence in favor of genetic resistance resulting from selective breeding and non-treatment I am thoroughly opposed to any path towards mandated treatments. This is an out-dated remnant of the days of legislation to control the spread of American Foulbrood. This is the sort of relic this bill should have been limiting rather than expanding upon.

6) Even if Section 131.001 Subdivision 17 did allow for defining a subspecies (ex. A. m. capensis) as an unwanted bee I am uncomfortable with the idea that checking for it is part of an inspection by TAIS (Section 131.044 c).  This would involve genetic testing if done properly, and I see no reason why I should be required to pay for genetic testing to this effect as part of the cost of a routine inspection (which would significant exacerbate the cost issues detailed above).  Aside from the cost-prohibitive nature of genetic testing, my understanding is that A&M Honey Bee Lab is the only testing facility in the state for subspecies genetics, and that they currently require a sacrificial queen in order to perform testing for A. m. scutellata genetics.  I do not believe they offer testing for A. m. capensis at all.  Is a sacrificial queen intended to become part of a standard TAIS inspection?  Is the Honey Bee Lab going to start providing testing for A.m. capensis genetics?  If unwanted subspecies are the target of the Subdivision on unwanted bee species this legislation needs to reflect that, and it needs to take enforcement into account.  Unenforced and unenforceable aspects of 131 are the primary reason it is in need of an update to begin with, and we are better off with an outdated bill in need of revision than a freshly updated Section 131 that is equally in need of revision.

7) The extension of the Texas Apiary Inspection Service’s authority to encompass non-Apis species (Section 131.001 Subdivision 17) is a huge over-step.  TAIS is by definition responsible for the regulation of “apiaries” and “apiculture” (places where honey bees are kept and the keeping of honey bees), and I see no benefit, and many potential drawbacks, to having them theoretically responsible for any of thousands of species of bees that are not honey bees.  HB 1293 gives the TAIS the authority to declare unwanted, and in turn to destroy, non-Apis bee species.  TAIS was not established for this purpose, has never existed for this purpose, and should not be given the authority to theoretically eradicate (Section 131.021) native bee species for being detrimental to apiculture. All that aside, this is a three-person office responsible for enforcement throughout the state… TAIS can’t realistically hope to enforce most of the current regulation, and this bill expands their duties considerably.

8) If unwanted subspecies are the goal of the “Unwanted species of bee” addition, and the concerns in all previously listed objections are resolved such that subspecies can be listed, then my concern becomes Africanized Honey Bees (AHB) and other subspecies genetics that are potentially constructive in breeding programs but may be viewed as undesirable by some.  Certainly Apis mellifera scutellata genetics are in many strong, survivor-stock hives throughout the state.  I just heard Dr. Rangel give a talk which addressed that this is to some degree true, and even specifically addressed “gentle Africanized Honey Bees” in management.  Yet in the eyes of most of the public, and the eyes of many beekeepers, this is a subspecies that is viewed as “deleterious”.  It is not at all unreasonable to foresee a future where the chief apiary inspector could suddenly find him or herself under tremendous pressure to list A. m. scutellata as undesirable.  I am uncomfortable with the idea of selective open-mated breeding programs for survivor stock being unable to pass routine inspections, or even being subject to being eradicated (Section 131.021), if A. m. scutellata were to be listed as an “undesirable subspecies of bee”.  Providing for the listing of subspecies as undesirable could potentially in a very short period undo decades of selective breeding for good survivor stock in Texas.  African subspecies aside, this could also theoretically be used to mandate queen purchases from a certain breeding operation by listing other subspecies.  All these scenarios may seem unlikely, but they are allowable and defensible under the wording of HB1293, if subspecies are allowed to be listed as unwanted.