Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! I've been a long time reader of the Forum, but never posted before. I live in Grove City, Ohio and just started beekeeping in April. One of the reasons I moved to Grove City is that they didn't have an ordinance regarding bees. There have been a few recent complaints, including my neighbor, so the city is passing an ordinance.

It's not an outright ban (thank god). I wanted to know if anyone had an opinion on the ordinance. I've attached it (I hope). Scroll down a couple pages and you'll find it. Here's the link:

http://citycouncil.grovecityohio.gov/meetings/

And the same link that I just copied and pasted:

http://citycouncil.grovecityohio.gov/meetings/

You want to look at the August 4 agenda.


Here's my background. I have wanted to own bees since the late 1990's, but didn't have the space. All along I've been reading and over the last two years going to trainings and workshops.

I moved into a house in 2011, which gave me the room I needed for my hives. I have two hives with all mediums and a nuc, which I just started a few weeks ago. The hives have 5 mediums each with the 4th and 5th mediums filled or being filled with honey.

I told my neighbor in 2011, 2012, and 2013 I was eventually going to get bees. He never had a complaint. Even last fall when I told him I was ordering the equipment and bees and would start in the spring of 2014 he never complained. He even helped me pick out the location for the hives.

In the spring, before any bees had been delivered, the wife started yelling at me about the bees. This occurred two more times after I got the bees. All along the husband and I remained friendly. (These were neighbors that used to invite us to their kid's birthday parties and who we exchanged Christmas gifts with.)

The husband and I texted back and forth through all of this. My wife and I went over on his request to see all the bees on their porch. We saw 4-6 in 30 minutes, none stayed more than a few seconds. We went back to the porch another time he texted me complaining about the bees. We saw one in 20 minutes.

Then, all of a sudden, the dialogue stopped in late April. No texts to him were returned. I spoke to him and he blew me off. In June he put three inch spikes down the middle of our property line and told me "We'll stay on our side. You stay on your side, or else." I attempted to talk to him. He ignored me.

This was when he started complaining to city council. He had officials out to look at my hives. He told everyone who would listen that he always thought the bees didn't belong in a subdivision as they were unsafe. He said how his family couldn't use their porch because of all the bees. The list of complaints and reasonings why Grove City shouldn't have bees is long as is this tale. Sorry.

In the past week I've been interviewed by a local TV station and paper. Of course he has, too. It seems the pro-bee message gets lost when he talks about his kids being set upon by a swarm.

Could someone give their opinion of the ordinance? Also, any local beekeepers may want to attend the August 4 Grove City, Ohio council meeting where the first reading of the ordinance will be read.

Thanks.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,486 Posts
Looks like basic ordinance, but the 'complaint' section seems to need clarity. Does it mean a complaint with actual substance or if one person, i.e your neighbor just makes a general one sided complaint, your bees have to go?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Looks like basic ordinance, but the 'complaint' section seems to need clarity. Does it mean a complaint with actual substance or if one person, i.e your neighbor just makes a general one sided complaint, your bees have to go?
That's one of the questions I have. If my neighbor complains, as I'm sure he will, does that mean I have to get rid of my bees after that complaint?

I know my neighbor isn't the only person to complain in Grove City. A subdivision near us had at least three complaints in the last few weeks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,186 Posts
It looks like a fairly normal ordinance to me, for the most part. I agree that the compliance clause has room for explanation. It seems like all a neighbor has to do is say that he is unable to enjoy his porch, yard, etc because of an occassional bee, and you get the shaft. There is no way to prove those bees come from your hive, short of genetic analysis. I have a serious problem with the phrase " Colonies shall be re-queened following any agressive behavior." Who gets to decide what bee behavior is aggressive, and what is defensive?

If he has closed all dialog, you don't have a lot of options, other than to try moving your bees to a spot farther from his line, and to document your attempts to keep with the law. Have you considered consultation with a lawyer yet? Most of 'em give a free initial consultation. But what ever you do, document it (cameras, notebook, etc.)

Not to be a nag, but I think your 1st mistake was to give him all those years of friendly warnings before you finally got your colony. Too long for the anxiety to build up.
Word to noobs that might read this, Keep your yap shut to your neighbors about wanting bees. They will probably never know the difference once you do finally get them, but might be upset if you do tell them.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
673 Posts
I agree the complaint portion is lacking. The ordinance needs to be worded that the complaint must be substantiated and reasonable. For example, complaining that a bee flew onto your front porch is not reasonable. Bees, whether one of yours or from somewhere else, just do that. How does he know where the bee came from? None of mine have tail numbers stamped on them.

I found the water requirement interesting, and a good idea. Searching for water is probably one of the biggest sources of complaints. I used to have problems with my bees getting into the bird bath, the chicken water, the dog water, etc. They I got a 3 gallong chicken waterer with stones in the drinking area for the bees to land on, removed all other outdoor water sources for a few days, and the bees established this new source as their own. There are around 30 or so bees on it all day long, and they stay out of the dog water, chicken water, etc.

Sorry about your neighbors. Too bad you couldn't get established early enough and give them a few pounds of honey as an annual bribe to not complain before they got all spun up!

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,244 Posts
Have you been in contact with your local and the state bee inspectors? http://www.agri.ohio.gov/apiary/ You can also try contacting COBA: http://www.centralohiobeekeepers.org/ and OSBA: http://www.ohiostatebeekeepers.org/

You may get some help in wording legistlation in a manner that is clear and conscise. Have you been in contact with your local member of council? Developing a relationship before votes are taken will help provide two-way communication.

I volunteer for a city commission and hve found the most council members want to do what is reasonable. In cases like this it is easy to get knee-jerk reactions. That is why most laws require multiple readings before voting. If you have geographical and at-large members of council communicate with as many as possible.

Reasonable regulations are one thing. But, what may seem reasonable to a non-beekeeper may not be reasonable nor represent reality of bees.

I have my hives at home behind a six-foot privacy fence. I no longer volunteer to neighbors that I have bees. Many find out. The only problem I have had was in late summer and a neighbor with a pool. The bees were attracted to the chlorinated water. Even though his pool was illegal, it was not fenced, I moved the hives. Once the pool came down for the season the hives came back.

Tom
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Let me give you a little more history. The husband's father lives in the country. His neighbor has around 50 hives. The bees, or so I've been told, are a constant nuisance. They swarm all the time and attack his dad while he's mowing 30 feet away from the hives. Again, this is what I've been told. I think I was battling a neighbor with preconceived notions of bees from the beginning.

I was doing what I thought was neighborly in letting the neighbor know bees were coming. They can see the hives from their porch, which is located over 80 feet away from the hives, so they would've found out pretty quickly.

I do have a lawyer working on this. He's spoken to the councilman spearheading this and told me his conversation was very productive. The lawyer and I have a meeting Saturday so I'll know more then.

Water shouldn't be an issue. I have a 1,200 gallon pond no more than 30 feet from the hives. I see dozens of bees on the lily pads and rocks during the day.

The state apiarist is aware of the ordinance via Facebook. I have contacted COBA, but have not heard back.

I have one-third of an acre. I placed my bees where I thought they'd be little nuisance to anyone. I didn't put a fence around them as I didn't think I'd need one. By the time they get to my neighbors yard they're already six or more feet off the ground.

I was probably naive in thinking the bees would not be a problem. I have rethought the privacy fence issue many times. My wife has pointed out that no matter what I did the neighbors were never going to be happy.

I forgot to tell everyone that they called the police a couple weeks ago because my bees were a nuisance. The police officer got stung. No one in my family witnessed him getting stung so we don't know the details. I had just finished inspecting the hives so they were probably a little agitated. I'm guessing he walked near the hive entrance or opened a hive up. Probably would've been best to talk to me first.

Thanks for all the replies and the advice. Hops Brewster, you're not being a nag.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,868 Posts
Agree with everyone that the nuisance wording should be more specific. Cop getting stung sounds like BS, unless he was trespassing and bothered your hive.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
224 Posts
Some of it is rather redundant. Ohio law spells out much of this already.
You may also read the best management practices given and listed on the Ohio State Beekeepers website. One upset neighbor can make it difficult. Unfortunately it's the squeaky wheels that gets the grease.
Best of luck with this. Please keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,614 Posts
Time for the old empty box ploy. Find a place to move your hives for a month or two. Setup identical hives, but empty, and wait for the complaints to start again. When they do, invite the city council and the news people out to 'inspect' the hives. Pop the top and show them the empty boxes. That should pretty well end them listening to his complaints.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If anyone in Central Ohio wants to attend the first reading of the new Grove City bee ordinance it's at city hall on August 4, at 7:00 PM.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,186 Posts
Time for the old empty box ploy. Find a place to move your hives for a month or two. Setup identical hives, but empty, and wait for the complaints to start again. When they do, invite the city council and the news people out to 'inspect' the hives. Pop the top and show them the empty boxes. That should pretty well end them listening to his complaints.
I like this gambit.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I wanted to give everyone an update on the Grove City, Ohio council meeting held on 8/4.

First, I'd like to thank everyone who came out in support of bees. There were six speakers, four anti and two pro bees. Luckily, the pro group had two good speakers. The first was a 12 year-old girl who spoke passionately about her hobby. The second pro bee speaker has been a beek for a number of years and gave a nice speech about the need for bees. He received a nice round of applause.

We still have a couple sore spots with the ordinance. After the first violation/complaint the beek gets slapped with a first degree misdemeanor. Each subsequent violation is a fourth degree misdemeanor. I love my bees, but I'm not prepared to have a criminal record in order to keep them. The ordinance also does not allow any due process. If there's a complaint you get the criminal charge. There's no process for appeal.

We've been working with a councilman to address some of our concerns. At least, so far, it's not a total ban.

The ordinance will be passed on 8/18. Anyone is invited so I hope all central Ohio beekeepers can attend.

We cannot let a few closed minded individuals ruin beekeeping for those of us who love it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,614 Posts
I didn't think you could have a criminal charge without adjudication in the US. Something in the Constitution about innocent until proven guilty. I think they are in for a challenge pretty quickly on that one.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,680 Posts
"The ordinance also does not allow any due process. If there's a complaint you get the criminal charge. There's no process for appeal."

A "charge" and a "conviction" are two different things. A charge only requires probably cause, such as a complaint with some tiny supporting fact. A conviction requires an adjudication process, such as a trial, where all the evidence is examined and weighed against a legal standard, and a formal actionable ruling is rendered. And there is alway a chance of some sort of appeal. An ordinance need not explicitly state this process since it always applies to all ordinances, laws, etc.

The language where a single unsubstantiated complaint automatically requires the beek to remove his hives wipes out the entirety of the ordinance. In other words, the language of the law nullifies the law. Can't see that passing a council vote or passing muster in court if challenged.

This sounds like it could be the begining of one of those neighbor vs neighbor wars that can get really nasty and everyone loses. I would do what I could to head it off before it gets worse. For example, regardless of where the hives are located in relation to property boundaries, I would consider putting up a 100% opaque visual screen which also forces the bees to fly high. Once the screen is in place, temporarily remove your hives and substitute empty boxes for awhile, and then quietly reinstall your live hives at a later date (as suggested above). Be scrupulous in following the city code and state laws.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top