Beekeeping legal woes in a small town

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by JL_COG, May 25, 2010.

  1. JL_COG

    JL_COG New Member

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    "The City has received several complaints that the bees you are keeping within the city limits of 'Town, State', are leaving your property and swarming the Senior Citizens housing area, as well as other areas within the city limits. As several of your neighbors and occupants of senior citizen housing are allergic to bee stings, your keeping of these bees has caused a great deal of alarm and the resulting complaints.

    Under these circumstances, this letter is to inform you that you must immediately remove your bees from within the city limits of 'City, State', as well as to remind you that you may be held legally liable for any and all damages and harm the bees may cause.

    Sincerely,
    'City Attorney' "

    I dunno what section this belongs in but the above is a quote of a letter that came today.
    Although it seems unprofessionally written to me it would seem prudent not to ignore it. Question is, how do i go about responding with the most chance of success in keeping our bees? Does anyone have any ideas? Thank-you, JL.
     
  2. Monie

    Monie New Member

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    Wow! That really stinks. You can start by looking up city ordinance. Can they prove it's your bees that are causing problems? Are they actually swarming?
     

  3. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    i got a letter simular to that one a few years ago the difference between mine and yours was mine spelled out the specific law i was violating in which case they said i was harboring animals that would attack unprovoked i.e. the pitbull law. i called the city attorney and talked to him and explained that he or anyone else was welcome to come to my yard and set amongst the hives and the bees would not bother them but if i took a bat and smaked the side of the hive we was going to get stung but they was provoked. At that point he said drop it and would not tell me who complained. 2 weeks later i got another letter from the city attorney this time the complaining party had filed a formal complaint and it was a neighbor and was named in the letter. This letter they said i could keep the bees on my property but i must contain them to my property they gave me 2 weeks to comply with this or i would be ticketed for bee running at large. if someone was stung or injured by one of my bees within that 2 week period i would be immediatly ticketed for bee running at large. i called the city attorney again and explained to him I was trying to be a good neighbor. I thought it was rediculous to put this under dog running at large I wanted to know how they was going to prove it was my bee since in knew where 3 feral hives was in houses and trees within a few blocks of my house and asked if the owners of these properties was given the same warning letter after all they knew the bees was there. I asked how they was going to prove the bee was mine he said he wasnt for sure how he was going to prove it i told him i would help by putting collars on all my bees that way if one was found with a collar on the officer could ticket me I also pointed out that the city had no legal reason to come onto my property to see if i was indeed puting collars on bees. he agreed and that was the end of it that was 3 years ago and up until 2 weeks ago i had bees in my yard until i found small hive beetle in a hive and moved them all to a seperate outyard. i have had no problems except when a neighbor got stung last fall and went to the police about my bee stinging him the police officer asked him if the bee had a collar on the neighbor said hell no it was a bee the officer told him that he was instructed by the city attorney that if the bee didnt have a collar on it wasnt my bee. the city council even went so far as to rewrite our city law concerning dogs running at large to actually include bees in the wording with dogs. It has a been a running joke in this small town since and it has been a legal loop hole that has not been tested in court. Sorry so long its a true story i would suggest you contact the city attorney and meet with him
     
  4. wfuavenger

    wfuavenger New Member

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    Sounds like they are trying to get you on a nuisance law.

    Be as polite as you can.

    I would explain to the city attorney that you are providing a free service to the residents by keeping your hives in the city that is usually billable. Pollination provides better flowers and better gardens. You are helping to create more of an aestetic appeal to the town by helping with flowers and trees. Explain that over 1/3 of EVERYTHING he eats is a direct and indirect result of honey bee polination. We do not just get honey from bees.

    Honey bees do not sting unless provoked. You are not unleashing them or letting them out to run around town. Any animal bites when provoked, and yet people in your city are allowed to keep dogs, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians and cats. As a last resort, tell the attorney you will be willing to provide a licensing fee for each of your hives so long as it is equal or less than the above listed "pets."

    Follow the same route as riverrat said above. Tell the city you will put collers on all of your bees like dogs and cats have to have and the city cannot come onto my property to see. If any of your bees are found you will be responsible.

    You could also try the agricultural route. People are allregic to certain vegitables and there are people who have gardens and "dangerous" plants in their yard. When they throw this food out, city workers might come into contact with it.

    I would ask them how they plan to prove that they are your bees that are swarming and how they plan on holding you liable for animals that exist in the natural enviroment that are "wild" and can come and go as they please.... As I see you have made several posts about removing bees from structures and catching swarms. Those are obviously not yours....

    If they get nasty with you and are not willing to work with you, I would also tell them that you are concerned about the city fining you and holding you liable for all of the squirrels, moles, birds, deer, rodents, insects, cockroaches, ants, cats and dogs that are running around in the city limits.... Each of these animals is obviously wild and not one of yours and can cause damages and injury (That makes about as much sense.) Because of this concern, you are getting an attorney and will be fining the city on behalf of the residents for each that you find in the Senior Citizens housing area, as well as other areas within the city limits because if they impose this upon you, the city must also be held responsible for any and all of the above under the same rationalle as you keeping bees.

    Then get a lawyer for a few hundred bucks.....
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    snip...
    Be as polite as you can.

    tecumseh:
    likely the very best of advice. it is hard to get mad at anyone while they are smilin' at ya'...
     
  6. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper New Member

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    Thankfully we have the right to farm act here in Michigan. There was a cluse put in the act on keeping bees and a cities can not impose any laws stopping the right to keep bees unless they were already on the books.

    I did have one neighbour complain about the bees in their yard. I asked if they had little YELLOW ear tags. they said no so I told them they were not mine and the fellow up the road a quarter mile had bees so might have been his. Turned out the bees causeing the complaint were a wasp knowen AKA a YELLOW JACKET.

    I would inform the city personall responciable for this type of complaint to get off their dead butt and check to see if it was not indeed YELLOW JACKETS scavaging sweets from the seniors drinks. I would also ask them what they were going to do about all the BALD FACED HORNETS also a WASP related to the YELLOW JACKETS.

    Sounds about like the insurance agent where I had went to get home owners insurance. I explained we have no tresspassing signs all around our property.
    She comes up with the stupid argument of what if a 5 year old wondered on our property and got stung. She got really red in the face and mad when I said the 5 year old would cry for a bit and longer when I turned it over to child protive services since the parent didn't seem to care where the child wandered. That 5 year old was lucky it got stung by one of my bees and not kicked in the head by the neighbours horses with steel shoes.

    Stupid is as stupid does. I left here with the parting shot, You probably insure some of the property where we keep bees, we have 12 out yards.

    :mrgreen: Al
     
  7. JL_COG

    JL_COG New Member

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    Well, now there will be a board meeting on Monday, June 8, 2010 and i need to bring a NICE list of positive reasons why they should let me keep bees in town to present to the four Aldermen of Shelbyville. Nice and polite and friendly like and to the point, nothing negative or smart alec, but sincere and in the interests of the whole town. So if anyone knows of such information already compiled a link would sure be handy. Thanks, JL.
     
  8. Mama Beek

    Mama Beek New Member

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    You might politely and kindly remind the aldermen that Shelbyville is surrounded by farm land and is full of low income folks who rely on their gardens to provide a portion of their food and that without the help of the honeybees to pollinate they are decreasing the production of the farms and smaller gardens. As an agriculturally dependent community Shelbyville of all places should understand the importance of pollination and the role that honeybees play in that. Use it as an opportunity to educate some people. Explain that most of the stings that people attribute to honeybees aren't really honeybees at all but are yellowjackets and other types of bees and wasps. Explain that the overall bee population has been on the decline and that even a few hives will help.... print out some copies of the more recent articles on CCD that show the bigger picture.

    Maybe you could also offer some measures that you can take to make the bees less of a problem for the folks at the senior housing areas, like placing fencing in front of the hives to raise the height of the flight path or do as some other folks in towns have done and make a tall platform to keep the hives on that is well above head level.

    I feel for you, I've lived not far from you and know how stubborn some of the people in NEMO can be once they make up their mind about something like that! You may want to talk to some folks out in the county and make arrangements to move your hives as a last resort.