Under California law all beekeepers operating in California are required each year to register their hives with the Agriculture Commissioner in their home county or the first county where 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.
Fortunately, a system called BeeWhere makes this process simple and works to effectively safeguard bees from pesticide incidents.
“Last year some 2,900 beekeepers registered with the BeeWhere system which represents nearly 1.5 million bee colonies at 17,000 locations,” says 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.”
“The goal of BeeWhere is to improve communications among beekeepers, farmers and pesticide businesses,” says Ruben Arroyo, Riverside County Ag Commissioner who has been instrumental in the development of BeeWhere. “Using GIS mapping technology, BeeWhere works in conjunction with the CalAgPermits system to track the location of beehives throughout the state.”
Arroyo explains that applicators are required to check for nearby bees before they apply any pesticide that may be harmful to bees. Through these “bee checks” the system informs applicators if registered beehives are within a one-mile radius of a planned pesticide application site. Contact information for the beekeepers who opt to be notified will be provided to the applicator.
Beekeepers can register their hives in person at the Ag Commissioner’s office. But the beauty of BeeWhere is that beekeepers can register directly on their computer, tablet or smartphone using one of the following two websites – BeeWhere.calagpermits.org or www.beeckeck.org.
A BeeCheck App has also been developed by a company called Fieldwatch. The App makes tracking beehives as simple as dropping a pin.
The BeeCheck App for iOS operating systems is available on the App Store at the following URL: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/beecheck/id1347318866, and for Android in the Google Play Store at https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.fieldwatch.beecheck.
In an effort to make sure beekeepers, farmers and pesticide applicators know about and use BeeWhere, a communications effort is underway. It includes a website, Facebook page and outreach tools for beekeeping groups, farming associations and pesticide companies so they can share important information about BeeWhere with their memberships. The outreach tools can be found here.
“BeeWhere only works when everyone does their part,” says Ashurst. “Farmers should make sure that any beekeeper they hire to pollinate their crops is registered through BeeWhere and that pesticide applicators run a bee check before they spray any pesticide that might be harmful to bees.”