The California Farm Bureau Federation has petitioned federal regulators for an exemption from 30-minute rest breaks for drivers transporting bees that are critically needed to pollinate crops.
“Because of the reduced number of colonies available to pollinate, bees are transported long distances to provide crop pollination,” the trade organization said in its petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
“CFBF states that the commercial motor vehicles transporting bees must maintain a flow of cool, fresh air to the hives onboard and that excessive heat in the CMV interior can jeopardize the health and welfare of the bees.”
If vehicles transporting hives were stopped for 30 minutes, particularly in warm weather, the risk of harm to the bees would be significant, and possibly fatal, according to the Jan. 8 Federal Register announcement.
The trade organization said many crops in the United States require bee pollination, including almonds, apples, lettuce and several varieties of berries.
“There is no substitute for the pollination provided by bees,” the petition said. “CFBF cites a report in Scientific American concluding that in the absence of bee pollination, the United States could lose one third of its crops.”
FMCSA said it will accept public comments through Feb. 9.