The California Beekeeper’s Case Could Be a Watershed Moment for Conservation

Bumblebees can be classified as ‘fish’ under California conservation law, court says

SAN FRANCISCO — It’s a bee story that has become a national sensation, and a case that could be a watershed moment for conservation in California.

In 2016, San Francisco-based beekeeper Chris Fisher discovered a swarm of bumblebees on his property in the Marin Headlands. A single hive was found in the ground. Fisher was perplexed.

“I’ve had bees nesting on my property for a few years,” Fisher said. “I had never seen them in the wild.

“At the same time, I just became so, so attached to this little group of bees that I brought my wife to the tree house to go for a walk. She had just come down from the tree house, and I could see a whole cluster standing by a large branch of a tree and I asked her to take a picture of it.”

Fisher started to hear buzzing from three different spots on his property. He looked closer. “I got up from the picnic table and when I looked through the binoculars, I could see these bees in the tree, hanging by their hind legs, and I could see their bottoms are brown, but I couldn’t see anything else.”

Fisher sent a video of the bees’ feet to CBS This Morning, and the video went viral. Then, Fisher posted an update on Facebook about his discovery, saying the bees were in the tree, in the branches of a large Douglas fir. Fisher was thrilled that he was now the proud owner of approximately 2,400 bees.

But then, things took a turn.

The beekeeping community was stung with criticism.

“We are beyond horrified at their treatment of this little cluster of bees,” wrote one post on social media.

A year and a half later, Fisher was awarded $9,000 in damages by the U.S. District Court

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