Entering California

The California almond pollination is the nation’s largest migratory bee pollination. About 80% of the nation’s commercial beekeepers move their hives for California Almonds. California provides about 90% of the worlds almond supply, so it’s no wonder why such pollination efforts are needed. Most beekeepers start preparing and moving their hives to California between October and February. Once the bloom has subsided, the beekeepers have a specific window of time to remove the bees from the fields to avoid toxic pesticide and fungicides sprayed after the pollination.

California has a requirement that shipments entering the state be free of ants.  They are most concerned about the risk of importing Red Imported Fire Ant that occurs in the southern states of the US. Be sure to pre check the load. Agricultural checkpoints will also ask for an active, non-expired apiary certificate when hauling bees. It is the responsibility of the bee keeper to provide this to the driver, and it is the responsibility of the driver to make sure to have it handy to avoid delays at the checkpoint. All shipments should be clear of fire ants, mites, unidentifiable insects, mud and plant matter. If these are problematic, the load will be rejected at the inspection.

The hives should be thoroughly brushed or power washed to remove all soil, debris and weeds from the shipment.  CDFA officials will inspect your truck at the border and will reject a truck if they find an excessive amount of weeds, and especially if they identify viable seed heads of weeds. If your truck is rejected, you will have to take the truck out of California and find a way to thoroughly clean the load before attempting to enter again.  The beekeeper needs to take the time to clean all of your colonies before you load your truck to prevent the movement of weed species to California.  Always remember that the definition of a weed for shipments to California is determined by the state of California.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture developed these procedures to expedite the safe movement of honeybees into California to meet pollination needs and to ensure that through honey bee movements fire ants and noxious weeds do not become problems in their state.  If you have a truck rejected at the California Border you will need to take the truck out of California and make arrangements to clean up the load before attempting to cross the border again. Taking the time necessary to ensure the cargo is thoroughly clean when the truck is loaded will go a long way to preventing unwanted expenses later.  

It is the driver’s responsibility to know which bee keeper he or she is hauling for, the exact number of hives on the truck as well as the exact destination location. Most beekeepers will provide an apiary certificate at loading. If they do not, the driver must obtain one before entering the agricultural checkpoint to avoid delays that could harm the bees if the truck is stopped in daylight too long.