The state Senate approved a bill Wednesday that will remove some pesticides from retail store shelves.
The Senate voted 32-14 to pass the Pollinator Protection Act, which bans consumers from using a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which are believed to harm bees and other pollinators.
The bill bans consumers from using neonicotinoids starting in 2018. It exempts farmers, veterinarians and certified pesticide applicators from the ban. Pet care products containing neoniconitoids, such as flea and tick treatments, also are exempt, as are bedbug treatments.
Wednesday's vote came after more than a week of off-and-on debate on the issue in the Senate.
During many of the debates, beekeepers watched from the Senate gallery, some wearing their all-white protective beekeeping attire.
Some lawmakers questioned the science linking neonicotinoids to bee deaths and said the state should wait until the federal government acts on the issue.
"I think we're putting the cart before the horse on this," said Sen. J.B. Jennings, the House minority leader.
Bill supporters, meanwhile, argued that reducing the use of neonicotinoids is important for helping bees, which are vital for pollinating the food supply.
The House of Delegates has not yet taken action on the bill.