IOWA LEGISLATURE

Honeybee insect designation takes flight in Iowa Senate

Honeybees work inside a hive in 2014 at a facility in Raleigh, N.C. (Raleigh News & Observer)
Honeybees work inside a hive in 2014 at a facility in Raleigh, N.C. (Raleigh News & Observer)

DES MOINES — Backers of a bill to bequeath the status of Iowa’s state insect to the honeybee are hoping their resolution can make a bee-line to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ desk.

Members of the Iowa Senate voted 46-0 Wednesday to designate the honeybee as the official insect for Iowa after Sen. Chris Cournoyer, R-LeClaire, sang the praises of an insect that is an economic dynamo for the state.

“I know this bill has caused a lot of buzz so I will keep my comments short and sweet,” Cournoyer told her Senate colleagues before Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, good-naturedly cautioned her by saying “Senator, you are out of order” in discussing Senate Joint Resolution 2004.

Cournoyer noted that honeybees play a vital role in the production of more than 90 crops grown across the nation, many that are in Iowa, and aid as a pollinator in the availability of fruits, vegetables, nuts and flowers for wildlife and all Iowans.

“Iowa has over 4,500 beekeepers, and there are about 45,000 hives that produce 4 million pounds of honey valued at over $8 million,” she said. “Honeybees provide an estimated $92 million in economic value to Iowa crops from their pollination.”

Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, noted that his wife is one of those beekeepers and offered to supply any interested party with honey during Wednesday’s brief debate in which it was noted that Iowa is one of only two states that does not have a state insect.

The Senate resolution faces an uncertain future in the Iowa House, however, where past efforts to designate a state insect have stalled in mid-flight, and at least two representatives previously have offered competing proposals to designate the regal fritillary as the official state butterfly of the state.

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Rep. Megan Jones, R-Sioux Rapids, said she offered a resolution seeking to make the regal fritillary the state insect after being petitioned by the Palo Alto Garden Club, but the proposal never made it to the House floor for debate.

Now that the honeybee resolution has emerged from the Senate, she isn’t sure what will happen.

“It’s not a priority,” Jones said Wednesday.

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