A state program designed to protect the health of bee colonies is showing growth as producers better understand its use and benefits.

Under California law, all beekeepers operating in the state are required each year to register their hives through BeeWhere, a statewide logging system. with the Agriculture Commissioner in their home county or the first county hives are placed. And they must notify the Ag Commissioner each time hives are moved. Meanwhile, farmers and pesticide applicators are required to notify beekeepers when they intend to apply any pesticide toxic to bees on a blossoming plant.

“In 2020, some 2,900 beekeepers registered with the BeeWhere system, which represents nearly 1.5 million bee colonies at 17,000 locations,” said Bryan Ashurst of Ashurst Bee Company, who serves as chairman of a coalition of stakeholders which oversees the BeeWhere program. “These are very encouraging numbers.

“As supporters of BeeWhere, we want to remind beekeepers they must register annually and we’re encouraging farmers and pesticide applicators to use the BeeWhere system to protect our bees,” he added.

Ruben Arroyo, Riverside County Ag Commissioner and an instrumental figure in the development of BeeWhere, said the program’s goal is to “improve communications among beekeepers, farmers and pesticide businesses.”

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BeeWhere uses mapping technology and works with the CalAgPermits system to track beehive locations throughout the state. Applicators are required to check for nearby bees before applying any pesticide that may be harmful to bees. Beekeepers can register their hives online and applicators can check for nearby bees through apps available for Apple and Android devices.

“BeeWhere only works when everyone does their part,” says Ashurst.  “Farmers should make sure that any beekeeper they hire to pollinate their crops are registered through BeeWhere and that pesticide applicators run a bee check before they spray any pesticide that might be harmful to bees.”

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