Crestline man stung by proposed beekeeping law
By Jennifer Kowalewski
Gannett News Service
Beekeeper H.L. Barker has been keeping bees for more than six years. He is the Richland County bee inspector and vice president of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association. Here are a few of his tips regarding honey bees:
Do not swat and make the windmill motion at bees because that will make them aggressive.
Bees only sting to protect themselves or their hives.
Walking barefoot can lead to being stung on the foot.
Bees are fragile, only able to sting once because the stinger comes out, causing the creature to die.
Bees can travel up to five miles from their hive foraging for nutrients.
CRESTLINE, Ohio -- Dave Duncan says he didn't realize his beehives would create such a buzz.
The Crestline resident has kept the honey bees buzzing in the city for more than a decade. Yet City Council may look to regulate his life's work.
"The bees are not the problems," Duncan said. "The lawmakers are the problems."
Duncan hopes he and city officials can work out an agreement allowing his beehives to remain within city limits.
"I don't want to be a nuisance," Duncan said. "I was totally unaware there was a problem. Typically, you have a problem when you can see the hive."
Duncan owns property along Bucyrus Street, just west of city hall. In 2003, the city forced him to tear down a building on one of the properties, showing hives he kept previously obscured by the structure.
Safety-Service Director Gene Toy said the city received a complaint from a resident who was allergic to bee stings. City Council's legislative committee looked into the issue, and researched other cities' laws regarding beekeeping.
At the June 28 council meeting, officials had the first reading of an ordinance to outlaw beekeeping within the city limits, Toy said. Council plans to discuss the issue at its Monday council meeting, and have a final reading July 26.
Council may look at less restrictive measures, like creating laws as to where bees can be kept, Toy said.
"When this whole thing got started, we got a complaint, actually it was a legitimate problem," Toy said. "Bees don't know city limits. A beehive sitting on a 50 by 100 foot parcel of land within 20 feet of a neighbor's home with a lady with an allergy, that could be a problem."
Duncan says he understands his neighbors' plight.
"I had an anaphylactic reaction when I was 5," he said. "I am sympathetic."
Early Tuesday morning, Duncan moved the beehives on his West Bucyrus Street property to nearby land further away from the neighborhood. The problem remains though because the rural property still sits in city limits.
Duncan said an ordinance banning the hives would be a personal attack by city officials against him.
Toy denied that, adding he did not help create the legislation being discussed.
Beekeeper H.L. Barker lives across the city line in Richland County. As the Richland County bee inspector and vice president of the Ohio State Beekeepers Association, he is concerned about Crestline's potential legislation.
"It's really ridiculous," he said. "You can't make a law to tell the bees where to go. Passing a law is not going to protect the people."
Many people who feel they are allergic to bees actually are not, he added. Localized swelling is not an allergic reaction. Trouble breathing indicates an allergy to bee stings.
"Bees for me, that's my life," Duncan said. "When I go to bed, I think of bees. When I get up in the morning, I think of bees. It's not just a hobby. "
Originally published Wednesday, July 7, 2004