California will not be restricting chemicals that are linked to the death of bees and other pollinators anytime soon after Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill to ban the use of certain pesticides on Wednesday.

Assembly Bill 2146, put forth by Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, D-Orinda, would have limited the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in non-agricultural settings, such as lawns, gardens and other ornamental plants.

Bauer-Kahan said that these pesticides can have a devastating effect on pollinators that are critical to many of California’s leading crops such as almonds and strawberries, generating $11 billion annually.

Most sobering are statistics from the Bee Informed Partnership, a nonprofit that reports nearly 42 percent of the state’s beekeepers lost their colonies last year, the second-worst year on record. Nationally, the number is 45.5 percent from April 2020 to April 2021.

Just one square foot of grass treated with the chemicals can contain enough neonics to kill a million bees, Bauer-Kahan said.

A family works together in the Japanese beehive chamber to generate heat by rubbing the oversize honeycomb pads in the “Bugs” exhibition at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco on July 1. (Rya Jetha/Bay City News)


The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that pollinators are “at a critical crossroads” due to multiple factors including climate change, pesticides, disease, and Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a condition where the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear, leaving behind the queen. CCD is most likely caused by man-made factors, the USDA said.

Newsom said in his veto statement that the California Department of Pesticide Regulation is already taking “significant” steps to restrict neonicotinoid uses in the state.

“The department is finalizing regulations on the agricultural use of neonicotinoids and will begin the process of evaluating non-agricultural uses next year,” he said.

Laura Deehan, state director of Environmental California, said that she is disappointed in the bill being vetoed but that she sees a “silver lining.”

“In his veto message, the governor calls on his Department of Pesticide Regulation to issue rules in the coming year to address non-agricultural uses of neonics,” she said. “Of course that ‘lining’ assumes the rules will be well-crafted and have teeth.”