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New legislation is causing some concern for beekeepers

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Posted at 6:51 PM, Apr 26, 2023

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — House Bill 590 states a person cannot label, sell, or offer a product identified as Texas honey unless the product was 100% produced by bees kept in Texas.

Members of the Texas Beekeeper's Association (TBA) tell us the bill could be better. They would like to be a part of the conversation.  

“We decided as a board that we would be neutral on the bill because we do very much support truth in advertisement and truth in labeling,” Stillman said. 

 There are some issues the TBA board has discussed. 

Executive secretary, Leesa Hyder said there’s a lot of unanswered questions, leaving the future of honey sales unclear. 

 "There are a lot of labeling issues with honey that need to be addressed at the federal level which they’ve decided not to do,” Hyder said. 

 Hyder explains it this way, if you pick up a jar of honey claiming to be local, it very well might not be from the region at all.

 “If I have Texas honey and I put a local sticker on it and I sell it in El Paso and I’m here in Montgomery County. Is that honey local to El Paso?” Hyder said. 

 According to TBA there’s also no way to enforce the bill. 

Yet those found in violation can face criminal penalties.

"When we have a bad year, and you can't get that last ingredient of honey from Texas, and you have to pull it in from somewhere else to make your quota from HEB. What will happen? Will you be able to change your label, or will you be able to fix that? Or will you suddenly be breaking the law,” Stillman said. 

 Blake Shook, the owner of Desert Creek Honey, just outside of Dallas worries his business could be in jeopardy. 

 When it gets hot and dry in Texas shook says they’ll move the bees to the Midwest to keep them healthy. 

 “There’s a lot go room for cross contamination that would fail the pollen analysis test which is the only way to show origin. It could show there’s a percentage of non-Texas honey and open you up to a criminal lawsuit,” Shook said. 

 As beekeepers across the state continue to question House Bill 590, TBA hopes to work with stakeholders to create a more comprehensive bill in the future.