Houghtaling Bill to Protect New Jersey Bee Population Clears Assembly Panel

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Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Gary Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic) and Eric Houghtaling (D-Monmouth) to require advance notice of mosquito control spraying operations to nearby apiaries to prevent harming bee populations was released Monday by an Assembly panel.

The bill is in response to a recent incident in Dorchester County, South Carolina where millions of honeybees were unintentionally killed after county officials, concerned about the potential spread of the Zika virus, conducted an aerial mosquito spraying operation after sunrise. The bulk of the bees affected were from an apiary that had not been notified prior to the spraying operation.

"Pesticide exposure is a serious threat to bees, and beekeepers, if they are unable to take precautions to protect their businesses," said Houghtaling. "The incident in South Carolina not only cost beekeepers their bees, but their equipment as well. This ensures that beekeepers in our state are not caught off guard and are given notice so they can protect their livelihoods." 

The bill (A-4265) would require the State Mosquito Control Commission and all county mosquito control commissions to: (1) notify any registered apiarist at least 24 hours prior to performing within three miles of a registered apiary any mosquito control spraying application by telephone, regular or certified mail with sufficient lead time for the notice to be delivered the day before the application, by fax or email; and (2) post notice on their website no later than 12 hours prior to beginning any mosquito control spraying application.

Additionally, the bill would require all mosquito control spraying applications to be conducted before dawn or after dusk.

The bill was approved by the Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

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