by Nicole Wines
We love our bees and pollinators at Raíces and anytime we hear that there is an increased threat to their health and vitality, we try to seek a course of action. Here in our home state, the NJ Department of Agriculture is seeking to instate new regulations on beekeeping, which would affect over 1,000 New Jersey beekeepers, and their bees, adversely, making their current beekeeping illegal!
You can help! We are asking our friends and supporters to take action before the public comment period closes on January 19. Use your voice and reach out to your state legislators as well as the NJ Department of Agriculture to let them know that the proposed regulations would do more to hurt the bees than help them.
About the Proposed Regulations
Before we elaborate on the steps you can take, we want you to be informed when you take action, so here is a little background on the proposed regulations.
What is wrong with the proposed regulations as stated? They are restrictive, discriminatory, irresponsible, arbitrary, counterproductive and harmful to the honeybee population.
The point of the regulations as proposed is to restrict beekeeping to areas where agriculture is permitted, or only in areas that are zoned for agriculture, as well as apply existing animal control measures to bees and beekeeping to accommodate lot size and population density, restricting the amount of hives a beekeeper is allowed and essentially making urban beekeeping, and most suburban beekeeping, illegal. This ignores the years of experience and science pointing to the benefits of beekeeping, for the bees as well as the environment, in urban and suburban areas. From an email exchange Raíces received about this issue, one concerned beekeeper stated:
“The word is that the Proposed New Rule violates the intent of Public Law 2015, c76 NJSA 4:6-23. The intent of this law was to promote well managed beekeeping while reducing nuisance complaints made against beekeepers. It was written with NJ Beekeepers Association as a stake holder in the process to stop 556 towns and villages from coming up with 556 different rules, with emphasis on many different things; and to promote beekeeping, not to downsize it.”
What You Can Do to Help
- Submit public comment to the NJ Department of Agriculture, copy your state Senator and Assemblyperson. Here is a sample email template you can use to draft an email to your legislators. Written comments MUST be submitted to the Department of Agriculture by January 19, 2017 if they are to be accepted as public comments. Written comments should be sent to:
Joseph Zoltowski, Director
Division of Plant Industry
NJ Department of Agriculture
PO Box 330
Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330
or electronically at: proposedrulesPlantIndustry@ag.state.nj.us
RE: Proposal Number: PRN 2017-216.
- Request that your municipality draft a resolution against the proposed regulations. Here is a sample resolution from Ridgewood and a script you can use for approaching your town council.
- SHARE this information with as many people as you can and encourage them to take action.
- NJDA Best Management Practices for Beekeepers in Populated Areas: These were the guidelines the NJDA used to provide. These are good and show what solid regulations should look like. This is what beekeepers follow.
- Research report on Urban Beekeeping written for the Penn State Environmental Law Review