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Author Topic: Hello From Washington, DC  (Read 1010 times)
DCHoneybees
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« on: December 30, 2010, 11:49:57 AM »


What began as an interesting hobby and diversion given the deteriorated dynamics of my profession (real estate development) has turned into something of an avocation.  We created a mission-driven organization to educate and propagate the honey bee in this urban environment.  We have already donated three hives, and plan an additional three installations next spring.  Inquiries from community gardens and local food activists will hopefully translate into several more installation opportunities.  DC appears to be an untapped region for new beekeeping as there are few others participating in our urban areas. We operate ONLY in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

We are also looking for sponsors for what we call our "rooftop project" which dovetails well into my own background in real estate.  We want to partner with commercial property owners to install hives on the relatively underutilized roof space, with the hook being sustainability.  Bee stings and their associated liability remain a hurdle to implementation.

You can follow our personal journey on our blog, which you can find on our website but which I cannot include here due to my nubee status to this forum and the forum rules.

While not technically a non-profit 501c3 (yet) we operate as one and reinvest any surplus funds from commercial activities (honey sales, bee sales, equipment sales) to purchase additional equipment for continued bee propagation.  All of my time (hive management of sponsored hives, assembly of equipment, workshops, honey collection) is donated.

Please spread the word about our mission!

Jeff.
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2010, 06:54:44 PM »

Are beehives on private property still illegal in DC?
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DCHoneybees
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2010, 07:42:52 PM »

An excellent question, and one that remains a bit in limbo.  Low profile is probably in order, just not in my own personal genetics.

Here is how the law reads, with all due homage to the City Bees blog:

District of Columbia Municipal Regulations
Title 24 - Public Space and Safety  (December 1996)
904  BEES
904.1  No bees or hives of bees shall be permitted to be kept when there are human habitations within a radius of five hundred feet (500ft.).
904.2  The provisions of this section shall not apply to bees confined in hives, or to bees kept on property that is enclosed so that the bees cannot stray from the property.
 SOURCE: Article 16, §14 of the Police Regulations (May 1981)

Currently, DC has interpreted these conditions as problematic -- the first section says no hives, the second says hives are ok.  I would agree with anyone who was concerned that the interpretation of this law could go either way, especially in the case of a public complaint.  Most interpret 904.1 to describe feral hives that have taken up an unwelcome residence.

Most jurisdictions that ban beekeeping just say "beekeeping is not allowed within city limits:"  they don't create fanciful or impossible requirements. There must be a very odd story behind this law.

By the way, the second part of 904.2 is actually impossible, and an attempt to comply with its terms would violate DC zoning laws.

At this point in time, I have made inquiries of both DCRA and Animal Control, and have reached out directly to the Office of the Mayor and the City Council. All consider the law to be flawed at best. One DC apiary was the subject of a complaint to the Health Department last year (the agency which is charged with enforcing Public Health and Safety laws) and, after visiting the site did not assess a fine or order that the beehives be removed. 

This means that beekeeping in DC is in an ambiguous, unprotected legal environment. In an era where local foods, including those from community gardens, and greener lifestyles are growing in popularity and political importance, many of us would like to move the ball into stronger, clearer language that provides real-world guidelines for responsible urban apiculture.  We have begun working with elected officials to learn how to accomplish this goal. 

In the meantime, the Department of Parks and Rec is teaching courses on beekeeping, another suggestion that beekeeping is explicitly legal, but with the understanding that the law is open for interpretation.  Screening the hive so that others won’t easily see it is an option.  Note too that there are many federal buildings, including the USDA, that have active hives on their roofs.




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AllenF
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2010, 08:13:24 PM »

I am just glad I live in Georgia where there is a state law that no city can ban bee keeping.   grin
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DCHoneybees
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2010, 08:15:44 PM »

Agreed.  The good guys can't have guns here, either. 
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AllenF
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2010, 08:18:45 PM »

 grin
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buzzbee
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2010, 08:25:21 PM »

Beemaster forums is not a place to solicit funds if that is the intention here. read the forum bylaws
http://forum.beemaster.com/index.php/board,97.0.html
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DCHoneybees
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2010, 10:33:02 PM »

With all due respect, I think the Greetings asks one to tell about ones self.  My description did just that and I challenge you to find a solicitation of funds.  On the contrary I think I made it pretty clear that our (my) mission is only about the bees, and that I put a considerable amount of my own finances and time into that mission.

I've read your bylaws and I have abided by them as far as I can tell.  But thanks for making me feel so welcome.
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2010, 06:38:25 AM »

Accept my apology,but we have had many enter the forums  in the same way,only to post a couple times ,then never return to the forum.
We have had some come here looking for funding of a cause,which there only cause was to let others  fund their beekeeping hobby.
  If I misinterpreted the lengthy intro and profile link,please accept my apologies.
Happy New Years, Buzzbee
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Vibe
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2010, 09:06:08 AM »

This means that beekeeping in DC is in an ambiguous, unprotected legal environment. In an era where local foods, including those from community gardens, and greener lifestyles are growing in popularity and political importance, many of us would like to move the ball into stronger, clearer language that provides real-world guidelines for responsible urban apiculture.  We have begun working with elected officials to learn how to accomplish this goal. 

In the meantime, the Department of Parks and Rec is teaching courses on beekeeping, another suggestion that beekeeping is explicitly legal, but with the understanding that the law is open for interpretation.  Screening the hive so that others won’t easily see it is an option.  Note too that there are many federal buildings, including the USDA, that have active hives on their roofs.
I'm sure that the hives at 1600 Pennsylvania Blvd. are likewise exempt.
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The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.
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