Source: The Packer



Regulations from the California Department of Food and Agriculture allow citrus growers to know the location of nearby beehives - but industry officials say that falls short of ensuring certain citrus varieties will remain seedless.



"It basically contains the status quo, and the status quo has not been working," said Joel Nelsen, president of Exeter-based California Citrus Mutual, which represents about 2,000 growers.



Nelsen said there are about 28,000 acres of seedless citrus in California and many are at risk of pollination by bees, resulting in seeded fruit.



"Our industry is still subject to cross-pollination," Nelsen said.



The CDFA regulations allow growers to register for a list of nearby hives to work with beekeepers to find another location. Beekeepers, however, do not have to move their hives, according to the draft regulations. If the two parties cannot resolve a dispute, the county agricultural commissioner can issue an advisory opinion on whether the beehives should be moved, and where.



The regulations apply in Kern, Tulare, Fresno and Madera counties in the southern San Joaquin Valley.



Beekeepers are required to register the location of their hives with county agricultural commissioners.



The regulations are aimed at ending disputes between beekeepers and citrus growers, who claim bees are pollinating seedless tangerines and other varieties, ruining profitable fruit. The dispute continues, more than a year after negotiations began.



Gene Brandi, legislative chairman with the Hughson-based California State Beekeepers Association, said the proposed rules place more restrictions on beekeepers but should be approved as written.



"I think we're cautiously optimistic they will be approved the way they've been proposed. We'll have to jump through some hoops as beekeepers and try to work with (growers)," Brandi said.



Brandi said the rules won't likely change the pollination problem growers have because of how closely they've planted citrus with seeds next to the seedless varieties.



Steve Lyle, department of agriculture director of public affairs, said the regulations are under a 45-day public comment period, which started Feb. 27, and may be amended to reflect what input the department receives.