Does PA Need a Beekeeping Law?
There’s a quote attributed to Albert Einstein that you’ll see online from time to time:
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have no more than four years to live.”
There’s some debate about the source of the quote but whether or not Einstein said it misses the larger point: We need bees. They pollinate a majority of our crops, and contribute to our economy.
They’re also in trouble, with 30 percent of all bee colonies dying each winter for the last eight years.
But even as bee colonies disappear, beeekeeping is on the rise around the country, and so are laws that govern it.
A local case in point: Salisbury Township, which adopted a zoning ordinance last month that includes a section saying residents can’t keep beehives within 30 feet of any street, property line or neighboring house.
If a hive is within 30-60 feet, its owners need to put up a solid six foot high fence, which is meant to keep people away. Local bee enthusiasts said the regulations would discourage people from keeping hives.
Soon after adopting the ordinance, Salisbury began working on plans for an ordinance that would deal specifically with beekeeping, possibly with the help of local beekeepers, WFMZ reported.
While it’s admirable to see a municipality want to encourage beekeeping, we think Pennsylvania communities could take a page from New Jersey and push for a statewide beekeeping law.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, beekeepers in New Jersey began lobbying for the legislation in 2013. The package of bills “authorize the state to regulate beekeeping, give municipalities a role in enforcement, protect commercial beekeepers from nuisance complaints, and establish a fine of up to $500 for anyone intentionally destroying a native bee hive.”
At RenewLV, we support initiatives that promotes sustainability and regional cooperation. If bees are important to our national food economy, they’re also crucial to our local food economy. And instead of crafting 62 different municipal beekeeping ordinances, wouldn’t it be better for the Lehigh Valley’s communities to work together for something more universal?
As officials in Salisbury noted, the six foot fence is to keep people out, not to keep bees in. Bees don’t recognize boundaries. In this case, neither should we.