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State Wants Bee Regulations Gone

January 27th, 2012 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida may soon tell local governments that they can no longer place restrictions on beekeepers. Local ordinances have cropped up as the number of beekeepers has tripled, and as Mike Vasilinda tells us, industry experts say local ordinances are actually putting local residents at risk of dangerous bee stings.

A growing number of urban beekeepers has resulted in bans or restrictions in at least nine Florida counties. The bans come as the number of beekeepers has tripled in Florida.

“This bill is intended to prevent over-regulation,” Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) said.

Now state lawmakers are being told the bans are doing more harm than good.

“If you start banning bees in these urban, residential areas what’s going to happen is you’re creating an environmental void,” Nancy Gentry with the Florida Beekeepers Association said.

Testimony before a Legislative committee was blunt: local ordinances are based on bad information.

“I had a number of complaints about bees in areas and upon investigation, usually found it had nothing to do with bees but had something to do with neighbors not wanting to be neighbors,” Leonard Cutts, former state bee regulator, said.

These are docile European honey bees. Without them, the door gets opened to more aggressive, dangerous African killer bees to move in.

Bee Keepers like Tom Nolan say the African bees will be a much bigger nuisance without the kinder, gentler European bee to keep them from spreading.

“If we don’t have European bees in our areas to provide competition for food sources, for forage, we leave the Africans unchecked,” Nolan said.

Nearly 3 thousand bee keepers are licensed in Florida. The Florida League of Cities opposes the abolition of local ordinances, but bills in the House and Senate are poised to pass this year.

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