Enact a law in New York to protect honey bee swarms and colonies from extermination.
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Purpose of petition: Institute a law in New York to protect hanging honey bee swarms and honey bee colonies that are located in structures or other places where they are unwanted from extermination by pest control companies or the general public.
I ask for your signature to help make it illegal to kill honey bee swarms and unwelcome honey bee colonies because I recently witnessed the effects of the poisoning of a hanging swarm of honey bees. It took days for the bees to die. They were not causing any harm to anyone; if a beekeeper were called instead of using poison, they could have been relocated rather than poisoned.
Background: The European (or western) Honey Bee, (Apis mellifera) was first introduced to the United States in 1622. By 1947, America had almost 6 million managed honey bee colonies. Today, we have an estimated 2.67 million managed honey bee colonies. Over the past decade, American honey bee colonies have been dying at an average rate of about 30% per year. Beekeepers in the United States lost an estimated 40.1% of their managed honey bee colonies during the 2017-2018 period. During this period, New York lost 40.4% of its managed honey bee colonies; Connecticut, 73%; Massachusetts, 64.9; Vermont, 57.1; Pennsylvania, 53.1%; and New Jersey, 45.6%. The decline of managed honey bees is alarming and we must take action to protect honey bees before it is too late. (The 2018-2019 national honey bee loss data has not yet been released.)
The honey bee occupies every continent except Antarctica; this species is the single most important pollinator for global agriculture and plant reproduction. Honey bees, the "Angels of Agriculture" links the animal and plant kingdoms, and are the strongest link in the chain between food producers and consumers. Honey bees’ role in human survival is overlooked and undervalued. Through pollination, they are responsible for many of the fruits and vegetables we eat, and provide food and shelter for wildlife. Of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of the global food supply, 71 crops are pollinated by honey bees. The effect of honey bees on the economy and ecosystem diversity is significant. Honey bees are an indispensable part of our planet's ecology.
Honey bees contribute close to $20 billion to the value of U.S. crop production and provide increased yields and superior quality crops to growers and consumers. They are responsible for pollinating approximately 80% of all American agricultural food crops. While native bees and other pollinators do provide pollination, research indicates there have been substantial losses of wild bees; both the number of wild bee species and their population numbers appear to have declined. With a declining pollination force, our food industry will see negative changes in production, quality, price, and availability. Higher prices for fruits and vegetables will become the norm as they become harder to obtain.
In New York State, honey bees pollinate more than $300 million worth of agricultural crops. New York State is home to more than 60,000 honey bee colonies, but that is not enough for our needs! Additional colonies are shipped into New York to fulfill our pollination requirements. Without a healthy honey bee population, fruit and vegetable production would be at risk.
The problem. Honeybees are not protected under the Endangered Species Act, and there are no federal laws to prohibit people from killing them. Contrary to popular belief, in New York State it is not illegal to kill honey bees. Pest control companies and the general public can exterminate honey bee colonies or hanging swarms at any time, for any reason. This must stop. New Jersey, our neighboring state, has a law in place that protects honeybee swarms and honey bee colonies that are located in structures or places where they are unwanted.
This petition and those who sign it ask for a very similar law to be adopted in New York State. Protection of the honey bee is in the best interest of the people of the State of New York.
Below is the text of New Jersey law.
SUBCHAPTER 6. PRESERVATION OF HONEY BEE COLONIES
§ 2:24-6.1 Relocating honey bee colonies
(a) To preserve honey bee colonies in the State, any person including certified and licensed responsible pesticide applicators and commercial pesticide applicators and operators operating in the State shall contact the State Apiarist by phone at least 24 hours in advance of extermination of honey bees to obtain assistance in trying to relocate nuisance honey bee colonies or hanging swarms of honey bees, in lieu of destroying said honey bees. Honey bees shall not be destroyed without prior approval from the State Apiarist.
(b) In the event the State Apiarist is not reachable, any person including certified and licensed responsible pesticide applicators and commercial pesticide applicators and operators shall attempt to contact no fewer than three beekeepers identified by the New Jersey Beekeepers Association as swarm collectors servicing the affected county, in order to obtain assistance in relocating nuisance honey bee colonies or hanging swarms before nuisance honey bee colonies or hanging swarms of honey bees may be destroyed.
(c) The New Jersey Beekeepers Association maintains a website listing beekeepers offering to collect honey bee swarms and colonies inside structures at:
A honey bee swarm is the birth of a new colony, and is a beautiful, natural phenomenon. Although honey bees can swarm at almost any time of the year, swarm season in New York typically occurs in May and June. Swarming is a natural biological function of honey bees. Honey bee swarms are not dangerous and are very gentle. They tend to be at their most docile phase of life while in a swarm. They have no home or young to defend. Their stomachs are filled with honey, so they are practically unable to sting. They usually hang on a bush or tree branch while scout bees look for a dry dark cavity. When they agree on the location, the swarm will take flight and move into that cavity. This process can take from minutes to days, depending on the weather and availability of a suitable new home.
Allowing a beekeeper to capture the swarm alive, rather than be exterminated by pest control companies or the general public (out of fear, ignorance, and greed), can help save honey bees. Swarms of honey bees only have a survival rate of about 25% on their own, so if we allow a beekeeper to relocate them, they'll have a much better chance of survival.
When honey bee colonies are located in structures or in other unwanted places, they can, and should be safely and humanely removed and relocated rather than exterminated. An established honey bee colony can contain up to 50,000 or more honey bees. Pest control companies use large amounts of poisons to kill a colony. Left behind after the extermination are poisoned, dead and dying bees, poisoned brood (baby bees), poisoned honey, poisoned pollen, and poisoned bees wax. This can attract other honey bees or animals and harm them as well. It festers and can mold and rot, and cause harm to humans and/or the structure it was in.This is not a good option for anyone, except the pest control company.
An experienced beekeeper can remove the living colony and relocate it. They will remove all of the components of the colony including the bees, their brood, honey, bees wax, and pollen. They will bee-proof the cavity to prevent future colonies from moving in.
In some cases, public safety may necessitate that an established honey bee colony or a hanging swarm of honey bees be exterminated, but that decision should be left to the entities designated by the proposed law, not an exterminator who gets paid to kill honey bees regardless of any perceived or real health and/or safety risk to the public.
The signers of this petition ask for New York lawmakers to institute a law similar to the law New Jersey currently has (shown above) in order to protect honey bee swarms and honey bee colonies in unwanted locations.
The author of this petition is a Certified Master Beekeeper and a commercial beekeeper, and will offer any assistance necessary to bring the proposed law to fruition. Too often honey bee colonies are "exterminated" when in a structure rather than saved. This must stop. I ask for your signature to help make it illegal to kill honey bee swarms and unwelcome honey bee colonies. I witnessed the effects of the poisoning of a hanging swarm of honey bees. It took days for the bees to die. They were not causing any harm to anyone; if a beekeeper were called instead of using poison, they could have been relocated rather than poisoned. Fear and ignorance, and maybe greed, caused a beautiful swarm of approximately 40,000 bees to die. Honey bee swarms are at the most vulnerable phase of their life, while hanging and waiting for the scout bees to locate a home. Its like shooting a sitting duck. Please, this has to stop. Will you help me? Lawmakers, will you be the hero to the honey bees and give them a chance to live?
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