The Bee Safe program, administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is designed to protect bees from other pests and disease, as well as minimize exposure to pesticides. The BeeWhere program facilitates communication between beekeepers and pesticide applicators to ensure the safety of beehives. For almonds alone, more than 30 billion bees are brought to California to pollinate the crop every year. The two programs will work in conjunction to enhance the overall effort to help boost pollinator health and safety.
“They’re two separate programs but they work together,” said Agricultural Integrated Pest Management Specialist with the Santa Barbara County Ag Commissioners Office Mel Graham. “[Bee Safe] is providing county ag commissioner staff with some training and some support as far as looking at the health of the hives and really educating our growers and the public about keeping the hives healthy.”
The Bee Safe program works to ensure the safe movement of colonies, deter and prevent theft, and promote best management strategies for beekeepers. The program also provides funding support for better enforcement of policies related to bee health including the need to register beehives and provide 48-hour notice of an intended pesticide application. “It’s kind of an integrated approach and the whole idea is to make it as easy as possible to find out if there are bees within that one-mile radius and to notify them and also for the beekeepers to keep their bees safe,” said Graham.
The heightened focus on pollinator health has been a relatively recent development. The issue of colony collapse and the attention it received from mainstream media outlets helped to raise awareness about pollinator health concerns. “Colony collapse kind of really showcased what’s going on and the need for support,” said Graham. “Our goal is to be preemptive and as supportive as possible for the local beekeepers.”
Listen to Graham’s interview below.