Suffolk County legislators on Tuesday passed legislation to prevent commercial exterminators from destroying honey bee colonies without first trying to save them with the help of local beekeepers.

Commercial exterminators in Suffolk will be prohibited from destroying honey bee colonies or swarms without first consulting a beekeeper for assistance in trying to relocate the bees, under a bill passed by the county legislature Tuesday.

Violation of the law will be punishable by a $500 fine per occurrence.

There are exemptions to the new requirement, for example where the colony is “overly defensive” or where the bees pose “an imminent danger” to persons or property due to its close proximity ti a residence or commercial/institutional structure or a public gathering place.

The bill, which was unanimously passed by the legislature at its general meeting Tuesday, was sponsored by North Fork Legislator Al Krupski, who said it will help prevent the “unnecessary extermination” of honey bees, which are “important pollinators.”

Citizens Campaign for the Environment worked with the legislator on the bill.

Global populations of honey bees have declined since 2005, the organization said in a press release. Massive bee die-off events pose a serious threat to this critical species, CCE said.

“Healthy honeybee populations make for a heathy planet. In Suffolk County, our agriculture industry and ecosystem rely on healthy honeybee populations. This bill protects and preserves our honeybees and prevents the unnecessary extermination of pollinators,” said CCE Executive Director Adrienne Esposito.

“CCE thanks Legislator Krupski for championing this important bill and we hope that other municipalities and New York State follow Suffolk’s lead on honeybee protection,” Esposito said.

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