BOISE — A bill introduced in the Idaho Legislature would exempt beehives brought into the state temporarily for indoor winter storage from having to pay registration fees.
Producers would still be required to register the hives with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, but would not have to pay the registration fee, which varies depending on how many hives they have.
Any producer who brings hives into Idaho now has to register them with the ISDA and pay a fee of $10 for the first 50 colonies and 16 cents a colony after that.
This allows the ISDA to know where hives are in the state and act quickly to address any disease issues.
There are 126 registered beekeepers in Idaho with a total of about 105,000 colonies, according to ISDA data.
Many of those producers network with beekeepers from North Dakota and other states and temporarily store their hives indoors here during the winter. Many of the hives are stored in potato cellars.
Those hives are en route to California, mainly to pollinate that state’s almond crop. They also pass through Idaho when they return.
The proposed bill was drafted by Idaho Honey Industry Association members during the group’s annual meeting in December.
Because hives are dormant during the winter, “there’s not a good chance of anything happening with them because they are not moving around,” IHIA representative Benjamin Kelly told lawmakers.
The bill would impact only hives brought in to the state temporarily for winter indoor storage.
Kelly emphasized that affected beekeepers would still have to register these hives with the ISDA.
“They want to make sure they are in full compliance … but they didn’t feel the need to have to pay the registration fee,” he said.
Mike Cooper, bureau chief of ISDA’s plant industries division, said requiring those hives to be registered with the state will ensure the department knows where the hives are and when they are due to leave the state.
Cooper said ISDA officials will ensure those hives are only here temporarily.
“We want to make sure they follow through with what they said they were going to do,” he said. “If a producer decides to stay and put them out for honey production or pollination, then he’s going to have to pay the fee.”