By: Ben Middelkamp – The Greenfield Daily Reporter
HANCOCK COUNTY — A newly enacted Indiana law that prohibits local governments from banning beekeeping erases existing ordinances in a few Hancock County municipalities, area officials say.
That means beekeeping now is legal in city and town limits.
The law, which began July 1, says no Indiana county, city, town or township can adopt or continue any ordinance, rule, regulation or resolution that disallows residents from keeping bees on their property. Greenfield, Fortville, McCordsville and New Palestine each had restricted some aspect of beekeeping, according to each government’s code of ordinances. Unincorporated Hancock County allows beekeeping.
Sen. Mike Crider, R-Greenfield, sponsored the bill during this year’s state legislature session. Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, was one of 16 representatives in the house who voted against the bill.
The law says while local governments cannot restrict apiculture, the science of raising bees, they can regulate certain aspects of beekeeping, such as the number of active bee hives a person can own and the location of the hives on a person’s property. Local rules can also demand that the hives conform to the standards of the Apiary Inspectors of America, a nonprofit that promotes better beekeeping conditions in North America.
Greenfield’s animal control ordinance had previously prohibited the keeping of insects, said Donna Butler, building inspector. Mayor Chuck Fewell said with the local ordinance now made moot, he wants to make sure residents are safe while keeping bees in the city and that neighbors are OK with the change.
“We want people to be able to have what they want,” Fewell said. “We don’t want to restrict them.”
The Greenfield City Council will soon discuss the issue, Fewell added.
Councilwoman Keely Butrum has been beekeeping on a property outside of city limits for about four years. Last year, she and a few city residents asked the council to consider allowing beekeeping in Greenfield. Butrum said many people have negative assumptions and perceptions of bees.
With the new law, Butrum said Greenfield “won’t have beehives in every back yard.” She wants to educate residents about the importance of bees in the ecosystem — as pollinators of many plants — and explain the safety standards beekeepers have to abide by. Butrum said while many people might fear bees, the insects aren’t aggressive unless bothered.
Last year, Mt. Vernon High School, located in unincorporated Hancock County, started a beekeeping club on the recommendation of a student. Community Beekeepers, a beekeeping club in Hancock County, meets monthly at the Purdue Extension Hancock County building.
At this year’s Hancock County 4-H Fair, nine 4-H’ers participated in beekeeping projects, according to records kept by fair officials.
More attention has focused on the importance of bees as their numbers decline because of pesticide use and other factors. Their value in agriculture is immeasurable: Without pollinators flitting from plant to plant, many crops can’t reproduce. Some farmers have resorted to “renting” bees from beekeepers to pollinate their crops.
About the New Law:
Senate Enrolled Act 529, signed into law in May by Gov. Eric Holcomb, allows municipalities to adopt rules about the number of hives a person may operate and the location of hives on the property. It also requires that beekeepers conform to standards established by the Apiary Inspectors of America.
The law overturns outright bans on beekeeping in municipalities.
Show Us Your Beekeeping Plates!!
That’s the Editors License Plate…BEEMAG. He has a personal plate that he pays extra for, and he makes a contribution to the Ohio State Beekeepers Association so he has that extra bit on it, too. What we want from you is YOUR STATE’S Plate, with your beekeeping message on it. But this can work 3 ways….a simple personal plate that says something like BEEMAG. Or a regular plate that advertises your state association, like the OSBA does here, or your plate like this one that has both. Be Proud of your state, your plate and your message. Show the world your BEEMessage. Send a cell phone shot to firstname.lastname@example.org, with PLATE in the subject box. We’ll share it with the world.