Here’s some important news that affects all beekeepers throughout VT.

H.205 Update: 4/15/19

The Vermont Beekeepers Association has given us an update on H.205. You can follow this link. Looks like the state has dropped the certification requirement, but there’s still a lot of state involvement in beekeeper education, among other things.

Contact your reps and tell them how you feel. Do you want the state involved in beekeeper education and certification? If not, then speak up.

The VBA recommends the following (direct quotes to follow):

H.205 should be amended to address these priorities and to delete sections that detract from these important priorities:

  1. Colony inspections and enforcement of existing laws and rules
  2. Education to protect pollinators
  3. Establishing honeybee pest and disease diagnostic capability in Vermont
  4. Reducing stressors on honeybee and other pollinator populations

We [the VBA] have listed some recommended changes to H.205 at the end of this document.

1. Colony Inspections to prevent the spread of pests and diseases – This is the most critical function that we need from our State Apiary Program

Every year, thousands of honeybee colonies are being imported into and sold in Vermont. Our experience has shown that many of these imported colonies carry destructive pests that are not native to Vermont. Many large colony importers do not a good job at controlling parasitic mites that spread viral or bacterial diseases that are tremendously more deadly to bees than West Nile or EEE are to people.

We need to be able to intercept these infested or diseased colonies and turn them away to prevent the spread of deadly diseases and pests. We also need to maintain our ability to inspect Vermont colonies to protect against the spread of deadly diseases.

So many colonies are being brought into the state early in the year that our one existing State Apiculturist position cannot keep up with the huge influx let alone enforce existing State rules on registration. The Vermont Beekeepers Association (VBA) strongly urges retaining the existing staff capabilities for colony inspections and enforcement. The VBA proposed adding the position of Pollinator Protection Specialist to assist with the huge influx each and to lead education efforts described below.

The VBA has also proposed language that would help the State Apiary Program turn away diseased or pest-loaded colonies before they get into Vermont.

2. Education

We question why the State is becoming involved in beekeeper education as proposed in §3023a. Such a program will detract from the urgent priority on inspections and future priorities and should be deleted from H.205.

The Vermont Beekeepers Association already has an established Beekeeper Certification Program that addresses the knowledge and skills that beekeepers need. In addition, the VBA and eight local beekeeping clubs (a number that is growing) conduct more than a hundred educational meetings, workshops, and classes every year for both beginning and experienced beekeepers. Twice each year the VBA brings to Vermont highly skilled and knowledgeable researchers and scientists, and others from other parts of the country.

The Beekeeper Certificate proposal in H.205 is redundant and will interfere with our limited Apiary Program staff doing more urgent work.

To assist the existing State Apiarist position, the VBA has proposed to add a Pollinator Protection Specialist position to § 3023a. along with a potential source of funding to aid the state Apiculturist and the Vermont Beekeepers Association, and local beekeeping clubs with public and beekeeper education including:

  • Bee health;
  • Work with the public and farmers to help them understand and minimize their negative impacts on pollinators and promote actions that support pollinators;
  • Identification and control of pollinator diseases or pests;
  • Proper maintenance of hives;
  • State laws regarding beekeeping and pesticide application.

Pollinator health can be dramatically improved with education of farmers, orchardists, general industry, and the public about their impacts on honeybees and pollinators but there is no such position in State Government focused on this effort.

3. Honeybee Pest and Disease Diagnostics

The VBA strongly supports establishing capability within Vermont to promptly diagnose diseases and pests to help prevent their spread to other honeybee colonies. We urge support for efforts underway to establisha bee disease diagnostics laboratory for Vermont’s beekeepers and the Vermont Apiary inspection program at Vermont’s Land Grant College – UVM. This lab that will improve disease diagnostics and monitoring and improve awareness of pest and pathogens for Vermont beekeepers.

4. Reducing stressors on honeybee and other pollinator populations

The VBA has provided testimony in the form of recent research on the effects of neonicotinoid pesticides on honeybee colonies. That research has established in field conditions that neonicotinoids have sublethal impacts on honeybee colonies that cause them to be less healthy and more susceptible to the onslaught from other harmful pests and diseases.

As a result, we do not support the exemption for treated article seeds in § 918.f.(4). All such pesticides should be applied only by licensed pesticide applicators. That exemption should be removed from H.205

The Vermont Beekeepers Association urges the following changes to H.205:

  • § 918.f.(4). Eliminate the exemption for Treated Article Seed
  • § 3023. REGISTRATION; REPORT (b)(6) Change language to read:

            (6) A current varroa mite and pest mitigation plan for each registered apiary owner.

  • § 3023a. VERMONT BEEKEEPER CERTIFICATE – Eliminate this section in its entirety.
  • § 3032. TRANSPORTATION OF BEES OR USED EQUIPMENT INTO
    THE STATE
  • Regarding valid certificate of inspection, change 90 days to 60 days

Also, add this language:

All honeybee colonies brought into the State shall be made available for inspection by the State Apiculturist prior to distribution or establishment. If colonies are inspected, a fee of $5 shall be levied on each honey bee colony inspected. This fee shall be dedicated for use by the State Apiary Program and shall support the cost of inspection of such colonies and to further beekeeper and public educational efforts.

  • § 3030. RULES

Change to read “The Secretary shall adopt and enforce…”

The VBA also offers links to specific testimony here. A summary is below (direct quotes to follow):

Dr. Samantha AlgerBill Mares and Greg Smela ( (links to their statements will open in separate windows) testified on H.205 before the Senate Ag Committee this past Thursday on behalf of the Vermont Beekeepers Association. VBA’s position summary contains four priorities and were used for background as-written by Fred Putnam. You may want to review those before reading the comments below. Please use the VBA summary when talking with your legislators. Here is a PDF version you may print to use as a reference.

Overall, the Committee was attentive and sympathetic. We were treated cordially and asked good questions.

In response to our comments referring to VBA’s education components and how it would be a duplication of effort, Senator Ruth Hardy – Addison, asked if VBA would support “working together in cooperation with the Agency” on educational programs for beekeepers. We said we would and that was reinforced towards the end of the morning. VBA has the materials in hand – publications, VBA website-based certification program, and an online learning management system (as-yet unused) to set up a real
VBA education program. Perhaps the board can appoint a committee to do this. We could quickly get ahead of the curve by arranging and presenting this to the Agency…

There was talk about defining bees. VBA was presenting in regard to honeybees, but we should acknowledge the AAFM is moving towards a more inclusive definition to include all pollinators. As Sam said, “we’re not just talking about honeybees.” Bill mentioned how it is “putting one more pole under the tent of pollinators generally.” Cary Giguere (AAFM) indicated the Agency is already gearing up to include inspections of more than honeybees. This could be a good thing in the push for a full-time inspector, yet a bad thing in taking attention even further away from honeybees.

We want to make sure there is an accounting of money collected by the registration fees to make sure it is properly allocated for the Apiary Inspection program. Sen. Hardy requested a chart from Cary Giguere showing the breakdown of funds allocated for the program. We will ask Sen. Hardy (or Sen. Brian Collamore – Rutland, I know him) for a copy for our records, and to keep the Agency honest.

In response to Bill’s emphasis on maintaining a full-time apiary inspector, Giguere said “that was a false rumor” and there was never any intention to cut the program prompting the committee to say it was “on the record” the program would not be cut.

Bill stressed to any and all that we should push to make the inspection position FULL-time, not HALF-time, as it is now. “Now is the moment to return to those thrilling days of the 1980’s when Rick Drutchas was the first and only full-time inspector in Vermont history. We should keep pushing to use some of the new pollination specialist’s time for honeybee education.”

Border inspections: It took the committee some time to understand their importance, but we think they got it. Bill Mares: “This point can be another arrow in our quiver to push for a full-time inspector.”

VBA member Ross Conrad, who was testifying on his own behalf, explained how he’d been pushing for pollinator protection for years and could live with the bill as currently written. H.205 was “a first step” and so perhaps we should accept that.

Herbicides

GMP posted a notice in the Reformer about applying herbicides. It will start in Windham County on or around May 20. See below for the contact person if you have concerns. The herbicides are Garlon 4 Ultra, Krenite S, and Polaris. I do not know of the specific effects on bees or water supplies – if you do, please educate us.

GMP Herbicide Notice

As per Nancy Frye, this notice refers to “concentrated application under distribution lines running through the woods and tends to be in more remote areas. Note that this is GMP distribution lines only. If you are near transmission line (VELCO) right-of-way, it will require a separate call. (I have a VELCO easement on my property and my bees got wiped out a few years ago.) You can contact 773-9161 VELCO and ask what their herbicide schedule is in your area.” Nancy also found this link for some more info.

A Message from David Tremblay, VT Bee Inspector

Buying bees from out of state? Let me know:  david.tremblay@vermont.gov

Title 6 : Agriculture Chapter 172
Inspection of Apiaries(Cite as: 6 V.S.A. § 3032)§ 3032. Transportation of bees or used equipment into the State
(a) No bees, used equipment, or colonies shall be brought into the State of Vermont unless accompanied by a valid (government) certificate of inspection within the previous ten months from the state or country of origin stating that the bees, used equipment, or bee colonies are free from bee disease.
(b) Any person … who transports … used equipment or colonies to a point within this State shall provide the secretary with a copy of the certificate of inspection not more than 72 hours after entry into this State.

Buying bees in Vermont? Make sure the Vermont Apiary program has inspected them!      

§ 3028. Traffic in bees; inspection; certification
A person engaged in the rearing of bees for sale shall have his or her apiary inspected by the Secretary at least twice during each summer season and, if any disease is found which is injurious to bees, shall at once cease to ship bees from such diseased apiary until the Secretary declares, in writing, such apiary free from all such diseases, and whenever the Secretary shall find the apiary rearing bees for sale free from disease, he or she shall furnish the owner with a certificate to that effect. 
 
Do you have bees?  Help us prevent disease outbreaks and register your apiary location!

§ 3023. Duties to report
It shall be the duty of any person who is the owner of any bees, apiary, colony, or hive to report to the Secretary in writing:
(1) the location of all such apiaries and number of colonies. The location of an apiary shall become its registered location;
(2) the change of location of any apiary within two weeks unless the change of location is to provide pollination services and the colonies will be returned to a registered apiary. Hives from a registered apiary may be moved to another registered apiary without reregistering;
(3) the discovery of a serious disease within any of his or her colonies;
(4) the transportation into this State of any colonies or used equipment, except as noted in subsection 3032(c) of this title; and
(5) the fact that he or she is engaged in the rearing of queen bees or any other bees for sale, if applicable.

Thank you – we are all in this together.

UPDATE on H.205

The VBA presented testimony on this bill on February 20. According to the VBA website, VBA member Chas Mraz reports the committee was receptive to working with VBA to improve the bill. The board of directors will continue to meet on this issue and will publish their suggestions when finalized.

Check out the initial VBA testimony and Bill Mares’ (another VBA member) testimony.

H.205

This is a draft bill that – if passed as is – may require beekeepers to be certified after July 2019.
Register your hives before July, and you will be grandfathered in.
Here’s the bill: https://legislature.vermont.gov/Documents/2020/Docs/BILLS/H-0205/H-0205%20As%20Introduced.pdf

A summary:

This bill proposes to regulate the 10 sale and application of neonicotinoid pesticides in order to protect pollinator 11 populations. The bill requires the Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets 12 to register as a restricted use pesticide any neonicotinoid pesticide labeled as 13 approved for outdoor use that is distributed, sold, or offered for sale in the 14 State. Certain products, including treated article seed and pet products, would 15 be exempt from the requirement to register as a restricted use pesticide. The 16 registration fees for a neonicotinoid pesticide would be used to provide 17 educational services, technical assistance, and increased inspection services 18 related to neonicotinoid pesticides and pollinator health. The bill would also 19 require owners of bees, apiaries, colonies, or hives to register with the 20 Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets annually. In addition, new owners of bees, apiaries, colonies, or hives would be required to be certified by the 2 Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

Migratory Beekeepers

According to the VT state bee inspector (David Tremblay), some migratory beekeepers are looking to park their bees in VT. We’re talking thousands of hives.
If we register our hives, we do have somewhat of a buffer between us and the many bees that may or may not have diseases (and that may deplete our resources so our bees have less food – and we have less honey).