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29 December 2008

Palm Bay, Florida outlaws beekeeping

I recieved an email from a fellow beekeeper in Palm Bay, Florida that was distributed to Orange Blossom Beekeepers Association members. The beekeeper, Michelle Provencal , has been ordered by Palm Bay's zoning department, to remove her ONE and only bee hive box. The violation was "agricultural use in a residential area" ,and then later a "nuisance and safety hazard" charge was added.

One might make a case that beekeeping is an agricultural endeavor, after all we are essentially farming bees when we "keep" them. ( my opinion is that the bees are tolerating US.. we have little choice whether they stay in our fabricated white boxes or not). But, ONE hive box in a backyard is akin to keeping a small garden plot, certainly not farming, and I doubt seriously that the zoning folks hand out cease and desist orders to residents attempting to grow kale, tomatoes & basil.

So, they raised the ante by tacking on a "nuisance & safety hazard" charge. Again, one might argue that a honey bee colony poses a nuisance and stinging risk to neighbors. But, if the honey bees are kept properly and the beekeeper adheres to the State of Florida Dept. of Agriculture's "Best Management Practices for Beekeeping", honey bees can be placed in residential neighborhoods, with a most reasonable degree of safety. The nuisance charge is just plain crap, as the bees aren't noticed by most folks.

Here's what really troubles me about the knee-jerk zoning and regulatory crap that local officials ram down us. In areas that currently are or are predicted to be in AHB (Africanized or Killer Bees) zones, THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE METHOD FOR REDUCING AHB (KILLER BEE) INTRUSION IS MANAGED BEEKEEPING. Healthy concentrations of managed honey bees will fill the available ecosystem's bee food sources, making intrusion of new AHB colonies much more difficult. We see this here in Florida, where AHB have filled areas of Southeast & Southwest Florida that have not had or have outlawed beekeeping. Incidents between AHB and humans/animals are increasing each year and are not slated to slow. But, just west of Miami, near Homestead, AHB have not infiltrated. We believe that's due to a strong migratory beekeeping presence that fills the available ecosystem with managed, gentle European honey bees.

Palm Bay is situated in Brevard County. We service Brevard, and are seeing some very angry bees. Beekeeping needs to be encouraged, and now. But, Go ahead Palm Bay, be short sighted, outlaw beekeeping, and open the door for increased stinging risk and nuisance bee removal costs for your citizens.

email city officials and give them your opinion:

Patrick Murphy; email
Glenda Hedge; email

A meeting has been called to hear Michelle's plea to keep ONE colony of bees in her backyard. Interstingly, the date has been changed to the night of the BCS championship. hmm...

From: Michelle Provencal
> Subject: Bee there, please
> To:
> Date: Monday, December 29, 2008, 3:47 PM
> Hi Beekeeping Supporters,
> I have just received a notice informing me of the change in
> both venue and date of the appeal the city's decision to
> remove my single beehive from my backyard. It's very
> frustrating to be sent in circles and I apologize for the
> inconvenience caused by the schedule change. I hope all of
> you can bee there. Please forward this email to everyone
> you can think of. It's obvious I need all your
> support.
> New Date and Place:
> January 8th. 7:00-10:00 pm
> City Council Chambers
> 120 Malabar Road
> Palm Bay, FL 32907
> For additional info:
> Michelle Provencal

15 December 2008

Where have all the bees gone?

Pennsylvania's state apiarist, Dennis vanEngelsdorp's impassioned plea to consider the causes for a mysterious, oft debated and likely serious malady (Colony Collapse Disorder) affecting managed honey bees. He also discusses loss of pollinator diversity and non-insect polinator declines and the case for meadows. From TASTE3 Mondavi conference , July 2008:

LInk to conference article and brief bio on Dennis: