Opinion

Letter to the Editor

Is anyone else starting to feel like they are being overrun by bee apiaries?

Posted July 15, 2013

I am an independent crop consultant that works in Northern Ramsey County, Western Walsh County, and Cavalier County. I cover right around 25,000 acres and I am started to feel surrounded. I am originally from Nekoma Township in Cavalier County and my family still lives and farms there. Recently Nekoma Township adopted new zoning ordinances to address complaints by residents and farm operators that live and work within the township. Many of the complaints include the apiaries being too close to occupied farm residences, roads, and entry points to neighboring fields. Other complaints were about apiaries that were placed on land without permission, beekeepers not following current state laws when it comes to registering and marking apiaries, and too many apiaries too close together.

If you don’t know ND State Laws regarding beekeeping it is in Chapter 4-12.2 of the Century Code. The main points in the century code state that beekeepers are required to register all apiaries with the state giving the location of each apiary to the nearest section, quarter section, township, range, and county. They are supposed to have a written lease or other document from the property owner granting the applicant/beekeeper permission to maintain an apiary at that location. State law also requires beekeepers to post a board or weatherproof placard bearing the beekeeper’s name, address, and telephone number at or near the main entrance to each apiary. Want to guess how many are not following these laws and what kind of penalty they are receiving? I don’t know of any that are following the current state laws in registering all apiaries or marking their apiaries, and so far the state has yet to enforce their own laws after continued complaints!

This is why Nekoma Township adopted their own zoning ordinance in regards to bee apiaries. However, now Nekoma Township is on its way to court. Three out of state beekeepers that place apiaries in Nekoma Township have filed a Writ of Prohibition to stop Nekoma Township from enforcing their ordinances. The court has currently granted an injunction to prevent the township from enforcing the ordinance until after the court has made a decision regarding the Writ of Prohibition. Nekoma Township’s ordinance requires beekeepers to register the apiaries with the township annually, have written permission from the land owner of the property and neighboring land owners/renters that surround the apiary, setbacks of a quarter mile off a section line, pay a registration fee of $15 per apiary, and can’t place apiaries within one mile of an occupied resident without said resident’s written permission. To many this may seem extreme but to those within the township they are trying to protect their way of life and the health and well-being of those that live and work within the township. The township has offered to give variances to beekeepers if they need them on a case by case basis. The beekeepers have refused to work with the township. They are afraid to let this ordinance stand because other townships in the state may follow suit in adopting bee ordinances.

I won’t say all but many beekeepers in this area can’t even follow state laws which are minimal at best in regards to protecting the rights of residents. A lack of respect by the beekeepers to area residents, landowners, land renters and workers has brought things to this point. I hope everyone starts paying attention and that the state starts taking action to protect its residents.

Kristie Sundeen



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