Published: Oct 16, 2012 04:45 PM
Modified: Oct 16, 2012 04:43 PM
CARY - Backyard bees have the towns official OK.
Residents are allowed to keep hives on lots of more than 0.14 acres, following a Cary Town Council vote on Thursday.
The town has long been home to beekeeping hobbyists, but the change of the new rule finally gives the activity explicit permission.
Before this amendment, beekeeping was permitted only as a farming activity, wrote Chris Simpson, the towns attorney.
Under the new rules, residents may keep a maximum of two hives in lots between 10,000 and 20,000 square feet; an additional hive is allowed for each 10,000 square feet of lot size beyond that, up to a maximum of eight hives.
Would-be beekeepers must pay a one-time $50 fee to get a permit, and theyll have to provide a water supply and a 10-foot setback for their hives, but the town will only inspect hives that inspire complaints. The town also nixed a proposed requirement that beekeepers build fencing.
Beekeeping turned out to be a less controversial topic in Cary than backyard chickens. While poultry advocates tried time and again for several years to win legalization, beekeeping succeeded on its first pass through the bureaucracy and it was town staff, not beekeepers, who proposed the change.
The town government initiated the beekeeping ordinance amendment in response to several complaints that we had investigated in 2011, wrote Town Planner Rob Wilson. None of those recent complaints resulted in disciplinary action, he said.
The change comes with the support of dozens of local beekeepers and a N.C. State University expert who helped craft the rules, but it has keyed concerns from bee-allergic residents and folks who already deal with next-door hives.
Yesterday afternoon, my backyard is suddenly covered by bees. Tens of thousands of them, like a cloud, resident Jimmy Zhang wrote to the council in March. He feared that his children could have suffered injury if theyd been present, and no professorial assurance could convince him to tolerate such a threat, he wrote.
Carys new rules set some boundaries meant to alleviate those concerns. Town staff may seize and relocate hives following incidents of multiple bee attacks, or if the bees pose a threat to the publics general well-being.
Beekeepers and beekeeping experts, including NCSU expert John Ambrose, also have offered assurances that honeybees are rarely aggressive and their stings are almost never life-threatening.
They sting in defense of themselves or in defense of the hives, said Andrew Currin, president of the Wake County Beekeepers Association, at an earlier meeting. When theyre out foraging, theyre more interested in the flowers than they are you.
Mayor Harold Weinbrecht said he was more amenable to backyard bees than backyard chickens.
You cant control bees. Theyre going to be there anywhere, he said. I just dont see them as a hazard or a problem they pollinate flowers, theyre good and a natural part of the environment. Chickens, I think, belong on the farm.
With the ordinance passed, Cary finally has settled its animal husbandry agenda for the year. But perhaps more questions are on the horizon after all, Raleigh allows pygmy goats.