California's tangerine growers are all abuzz over nearby bees who are – gasp! – pollinating their tangerine trees! They're complaining that California beekeepers are allowing their bees to use their citrus groves to do their dirty nasty business.
According to a story in the Associated Press, the citrus growers are complaining that the bees are causing their seedless tangerines to develop seeds.
So the tangerine growers have stamped their little feet and are threatening legal action.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture is actually in the process of writing regulations to cover the issues, which is great, except bees can't read.
Apparently, these new regulations will require beekeepers to register with the local agricultural commissioners by March 1, so citrus growers can keep track of hives within two miles of their groves.
If they find bees too close to their property, they can ask the beekeepers to move although the bee boys are not required to do anything. Looks like the regulations don't have any real teeth to speak of (bet you thought I was going to say "sting").
According to the AP, Paramount Citrus has already sent threatening letters to beekeepers near their Kern County clementine groves, saying they will seek "compensation for any and all damages caused to its crops, as well as punitive damages" if any seeds develop.
"We've tried talking to the bees, showing them educational videos, even providing them with little bee-sized maps," said Elwin Hightower, a local beekeeper. "But I don't think they're paying any attention to us."
All any defense lawyer needs to do is ask Paramount Citrus to prove which bees came from which growers. Assuming none of the beekeepers have branded their bees, or equipped them with GPS (or would that be BPS?), Paramount won't have a wing to stand on.
Unfortunately, this situation will only get worse before it gets better. Citrus growers are promising legal actions if the bees don't buzz off, but I won't be surprised if they start spraying chemicals to kill the bees. And since the world's bee populations are already suffering, this is the last thing we need.
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