All beekeepers operating in California with more than 50 colonies of bees on March 1, 2011 may now register to vote in a referendum to be conducted this summer on the proposed establishment of a California Apiary Research Commission.

Registration information and the registration form may be accessed at the following link on the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) website: www.cdfa.ca.gov/go/bees.

Eligible beekeepers have until May 30, 2011 to register with CDFA’s Marketing Branch in order to receive a ballot.

When the commission was authorized through state legislation (AB 1912) that took effect on Jan. 1, 2011, only that portion of the law authorizing CDFA to conduct a referendum of eligible beekeepers became operative.  The full commission law will not become operative unless approved by eligible beekeepers in the upcoming referendum.  The full commission law can also be accessed at the link above.

The commission law authorizes the proposed Apiary Research Commission to assess beekeepers operating more than 50 colonies of bees in California on March 1 of each year.  While the law authorizes an assessment of up to $1 per colony, the actual assessment rate would be set by the Commission’s board of directors each year depending on the projects planned for the upcoming year.

The California Beekeepers Association approached the legislature with the idea of this research commission after Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) began causing significant losses of bees in California. If established, the commission would be empowered to fund research and education about CCD and other issues of concern to beekeepers.