Political Notebook

Bees have friends in high places

Honeybees have friends in the White House and Capitol Hill.

California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer Friday praised President Obama for creating a Pollinator Health Task Force intended to promote the health of honey bees.

The task force will bring together various federal agencies to focus on why bee populations have been declining and what might be done to stop that troubling trend.

Bees are critical to the pollination of many crops grown in the Valley, notably almonds. But their numbers have been dropping in what is known as colony collapse disorder. Boxer noted in a news release that since 2006 losses in managed hives during winter have averaged 30 percent -- twice the historical norm.

Boxer and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., co-authored an amendment to the 2014 farm bill that would have created the federal task force. The amendment was cut out of the final bill.