GOOSE CREEK, S.C.–For bee enthusiasts who call Goose Creek home, they are now in luck.
This week, in a 5-to-1 vote, Goose Creek City Council approved an ordinance that would allow homeowners to have beehives on their property. Before council voted, some residents, however, expressed their concern.
“Has anyone considered the number of children or adults allergic to bees?” stated one resident during public comment. “I think you open yourself up to liability if you allowed the rules to be changed so that people can raise bees. I think by condoning keeping bees in the city, you open yourself up to lawsuits.”
“I think the ordinance as written is flawed when it concerns docile hives versus aggressive hives. I don’t think the ordinance has any way of measuring whether somebody has put in a docile hive versus one that is aggressive. You may want to reconsider the wording,” stated another resident.
Debra Green-Fletcher was the only council member to vote down the ordinance.
“Bees take a lot of water. They take a lot of flowers. They can offset the balance of butterflies and insects,” she stated.
Bee experts, however, say the benefits outweigh the negative.
“Whether you have a formal garden, a riotous mass of wildflowers, or a harvest of vegetables and fruits, you won’t believe the difference that honeybee pollination can make. Flowers and plants will be much more profuse, and fruit and vegetable yields will increase dramatically,” stated Corwin Bell, a professional beekeeper, who runs the site Backyard Hive. “Not only do honeybees have an enormous positive impact on your garden, but their nectar-gathering range allows them to also fly outside your yard and pollinate an extended area. This pollination helps the ecosystem remain diverse and sustainable.”
The city’s ordinance will ultimately stipulate how many colonies a homeowner can have. This will be determined by the size of the homeowner’s lot.
For example, two colonies would be allowed on one-half acre or less. There would be no restrictions if the property is over five acres.
The hives must also be located at least 20 feet from all property lines. The opening of the hives must also be oriented away from adjoining properties. Hives not being maintained must be removed and hives within 25 feet of a property line must have a barrier wall, fence, hedge or something that will prevent or discourage the bees from flying across the property lines.
According to the National Honey Board, there are an estimated 115,000 – 125,000 beekeepers in the United States. The vast majority are hobbyists with less than 25 hives.
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