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Baltimore and Bees don’t mix, it seems
From The Baltimore Sun
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Howard County beekeepers are looking to the County Council for zoning relief after the planning board unanimously recommended denial of a proposal that would allow hives within 25 feet of an adjoining property.
Bees are now in the same zoning category as farm animals in Howard, which means the hives must be at least 200 feet from an adjoining property, a rule so restrictive it prompted an outpouring of support in November from beekeepers across the Baltimore area advocating for a change. They insist that honeybees are harmless and haven't caused any problem if not disturbed, even in urban neighborhoods in Baltimore.
But board members were leery of having bees close to other homes, especially in heavily populated areas such as Columbia.
"It's best to leave it out of New Town," board chairwoman Linda Dombrowski said during a discussion before the 4-0 vote.
"The idea of having beehives in the back of town houses just doesn't make sense," agreed Tammy Citaramanis.
The board felt the county should study the issue and devise a detailed zoning policy for beehives instead of simply changing the setback requirements.
The bee issue arose almost two years ago when west Columbia resident Sam Peperone noticed a swarm of bees from his neighbor's hives hovering around the water from his air conditioner. He and others complained, worrying the insects would sting people who might be allergic and would threaten their home values. But the complaint produced a big reaction.
Dan and Jerri Hemerlein are Peparone's bee-loving neighbors, living on a 3.5-acre remnant of an old farm in Clary's Forest. Their row of hives is placed near their rear fence for maximum sunlight and benefit to the bees, the Hemerleins said. Having to move them would damage the fragile bee ecology.
"I think they're going in the wrong direction," Dan Hemerlein said about the board members. "It's still fear-based decision-making. It's sad." The County Council gets final say on the issue, however.
This message brought to you by Bee Culture, The Magazine Of American Beekeeping, published by the A.I. Root Company.