No, the state of California doesn’t actually believe that bees are indeed fish, but via a loophole in the state’s laws, there’s an opening to list other species as fish, in order to get them listed as a protected species.
Back in 2019, the California Fish and Game Commission determined that four species of bees were eligible for endangered and threatened species protections. However, recently a group of agricultural interest groups sued the state to challenge the four species’ status in order to continue the use of certain pesticides and the effects of monoculture farming practices. They argued that “the [California Endangered Species Act] does not allow the Commission to designate any insects as endangered, threatened, or candidate species because insects are not included in the statute’s enumerated categories of wildlife entitled to such legal protections,” according to the legal blog Law & Crime.
Ultimately the courts ruled that the four species could indeed be considered “fish” and maintain their respective listings as one of the state’s endangered and threatened species. The case against them is well worth a read if only for the humor of listening to lawyers argue about what the legal definition of a fish is.
You can read more about this wildly fascinating and hilarious case, in this article from Vice News.