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Helping Save Texas Bees Is The Goal Of Proposed Bill

By encouraging the conservation of wildlife, the bill aims at restoring healthy bee habitats
Photo: Scott Brumbaugh | Shutterstock

Honeybees are not just the best animal ever, they are a fundamental part of our ecosystem and the most economically valuable pollinator of crop monocultures worldwide. But their existence is under threat.

Now Texas state Senator Judith Zaffirini authored Senate Bill 2427 to save not just bee colonies, but also native plants and wildlife on the way. By helping foster areas where bees thrive, Zaffirini hopes to reverse the decrease in healthy bee habitats.

While the bee population worldwide is huge, and the dystopian future is still far away on the horizon, the reported decrease in colony numbers over the past 15 years is still concerning.

Between 2020 and 2021, beekeepers across the U.S. lost almost half of their managed honey bee colonies, according to a national survey conducted by Bee Informed Partnership (BIP), a nonprofit organization aimed at improving the health and sustainability of honey bees. That’s nearly 30% more than the expected 20% loss due to natural environmental factors like winter.

 In 2022 the United States Department of Agriculture released its most recent report showing a decline of 16% of the colonies in the first half of the year. 

According to Zafirini, this is a nationwide issue that needs addressing. “That is why I’m committed to doing more to protect nature’s best pollinators, including the more than 800 native bee species in Texas,” Zaffirini said to the Dallas Observer.

If passed, the bill would create the Texas Pollinator-Smart program which would promote the conservation and creation of habitats for birds and pollinators like bees near sites for solar energy.

Zafirini’s bill would allow for land used for wildlife management to qualify as open-space land valuation. This means that the taxable value of the land is based on its ability to produce agricultural products rather than its market value. 

To qualify, the land should be used to propagate a sustaining breeding, migrating or wintering population of indigenous wild animals in at least three ways proposed by the bill. This includes habitat control, actively using the land to protect species listed as endangered and providing shelter and supplemental supplies of food.

“To do this, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension would provide educational materials and technical assistance to those participating or interested in the program,” she said. “These resources are especially helpful for assessing the suitability of a solar site and the types of vegetation that would be most beneficial to pollinators.”