By WES SANDER

Capital Press

SACRAMENTO -- The state Assembly has approved two bills proposing agricultural commissions to support honeybee research the nursery industry.

AB 1912, by Assemblywoman Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa, would create the California Apiary Research Commission to help pursue solutions for an industry suffering chronic losses.

Researchers are still seeking the cause of the condition known as colony collapse disorder, which USDA determines to have started in 2006.

An April survey by Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research found that beekeepers on average lost 42.2 percent of their bees over the winter, nearly three times the 14 percent losses that beekeepers consider acceptable.

Losses in the previous two winters have been similarly high.

The apiary commission would consist of six producers and one public member. It would be funded by an industry assessment of up to $1 per bee colony.

The bill passed the Assembly on a 61-15 vote.

AB 2695 would create the California Nursery Producers Commission.

Its author, Assemblyman Miguel Hernandez, D-West Covina, points out a need among the state's approximately 600 producers for coordinated communication of the industry's challenges and needs to regulatory agencies and the general public.

The industry needs to communicate its role in such issues as water use and resource conservation, pest control and economic development, Hernandez says.

The bill proposes a commission of one public member, one ex officio member and 14 producers. Its estimated operating cost of up to $30,000 would be funded by an industry fee of six-tenths of one cent per dollar, or .006 percent, of sales.

The assembly approved it by a vote of 58 to 18.

Both bills now go to the Senate.

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