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Author Topic: Forced Inspections???  (Read 9847 times)
HBW1412
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« on: February 08, 2011, 06:40:42 PM »

I have noticed that many of you speak about getting your hives inspected by a certified state apiarist. 
Why do you have this done?
Is there a law that states that I must have my hives inspected in order to legally own them?
Does the legislation recently passed that deals with "food safety" have any provisions requiring bee keepers to allow a representative of the state on their private property to inspect hives?
Are there any other concerns I should consider?

This subject was brought to my attention today by a few local farmers that are having to deal with this sort of intrusion by our government.  I am now concerned that the small, privately owned apiary that I am building my be illegal.  I live in the country far away from the cities and towns and my nearest neighbor is close to 2 miles away.  There is nothing where I live except big farms.  Could I be getting into something that would put me and my apiary under the same sort of scrutiny as the farmers in my area? 

If I learn that I will be forced to submit to an inspection by a government official I will either stop building my apiary and have nothing to do with bees or I'll do everything I can to hide my hives and simply keep my mouth shut.  I have had this concern in the back of my mind for some time now, but after talking to these farmers I feel that I must ask these questions.

I have not been able to find any specific laws and the posts on beemaster.com have mainly referred to local laws dealing with hive location within city limits or labeling requirements that the FDA requires.  These laws are not what I'm referring too.  I'm talking about the micromanagement, overstepping, unconstitutional laws that are now being either proposed or passed. 

Thank you for your input and if you feel that I am looking at this entirely wrong, please let me know why.  Perhaps you'll change my mind.
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2011, 06:55:59 PM »

Every state is a little different.   Some just want you to register your hives.   Some want an inspection on all hives to keep diseases at bay.   Some only do inspections if you are a breeder or bee producer.  Some do nothing.  I am not sure what your state wants.   May need to look into it.
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AllenF
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« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2011, 06:58:27 PM »

You got nothing to worry about.    http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant&pest/apiary.shtml
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Acebird
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« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2011, 07:22:57 PM »

Pic any government regulatory organization and you will find that they are under paid and over worked.  Did I say that?  Now I didn’t include teachers and the DMV.   grin There isn’t the time or the resources to police the small guy.  They barely have enough resources to police the big guy which IMO they must.  If you go asking if you should be scrutinized then you will get an instant affirmative.  The government should protect the masses and as long as you remain a hobbyist you are minimal risk to the general public.  But if you ask, then by all means you should be regulated because you have some uncertainty. 
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HBW1412
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« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2011, 08:00:26 PM »

Thank you AllenF for directing me to that website.  I will be looking into the Mid-Atlantic States Agreement which specifies inspection requirements for bee diseases and pests.  The site you linked to didn't go into detail on that, but the site was helpful.

To Acebird - I'm going to let your post speak for itself.  Trust me, it does speak volumes.  I believe some of your stated views are held by a small minority of bee keepers and Americans in general, but I would like to point out that I have no uncertainty regarding this subject.  To be clear, there is no way I want an inspector near my hives.

I do not want this to be a political post.  I am merely concerned with what our government is up to concerning bees.
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Rosalind
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« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2011, 08:08:40 PM »

Check your state laws and your state agriculture department.

Generally, nobody pays much attention to hobbyists. Also, as Acebird said, most of the inspectors are overworked and underpaid--they don't have a lot to gain from shutting down hobbyists, who offer no economic threat to the big boys nor any power-thrill like they'd get from shutting down one of the big boys.

My own state ag department has an inspector who comes round once a year to check on my poultry; his other tasks include dog catching, stocking fishponds in the state parks, deer tagging and hunter licensing for the county. He's a busy guy! He knocks on the door, we chat a bit about how this year's hatches went, the weather, gardening, etc. He pats the dogs and gives me a slip of paper that says he stopped by and my birds are fine. This past visit, I said, "I got bees, do you want to see them? They're down in the orchard." He rolled his eyes and said, "No way, I have enough to do without worrying about bees too. I'm sure they're fine." And that was that.

Near as I can tell, working with various regulatory agencies in my career, they mostly only bother you if there's been a complaint of something pretty bad happening. And it really does have to be very bad, like many people getting severely injured. If you're doing fine, fairly competent, no complaints, nobody really cares what you do--they have bigger fish to fry. You could be running around on a unicycle wearing a clown hat and singing Waltzing Matilda--the people who care deeply about such things, who will really make your life very hard to the best of their abilities, are NOT regulators. They are busybody neighbors with nothing better to do than watch teevee and fuss about who is doing what with whom, who never worked a day in their lives and instead spend their time carping about who brought what to the ladies auxiliary potluck, sort of thing. That's who you have to watch out for, as a hobbyist. Just my experience through many, many actual inspections, audits and investigations from many feared three-letter federal regulators.  tongue
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Countryboy
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« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2011, 08:10:00 PM »

You got nothing to worry about.    http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/plant&pest/apiary.shtml

It appears that apiaries are required to be registered, as the State Inspector has the right to inspect any apiary.

Here in Ohio, I am required to register my apiaries.  However, I can sign a no consent form which means the state knows I have a beeyard, but the county inspector is not allowed to touch my hives without a search warrant.

If I sell bees or queens, I am required to have a special inspection done on my bees.  I don't think you can sign a no consent form for this.  However, many people never get this inspection and they don't get in trouble for it.

My State Inspector is a complete idiot.  When the last State Inspector retired, there was uncertainty if that position would even be filled.  The current State Inspector worked in the plant pathology lab at OSU, and their hours were being cut.  I think it was the good ole boy system that gave them a part time job as a State Inspector.  Every other day they work a different job (meaning nothing gets done at either job, but they get a full paycheck) - plant pathology lab one day, and State Inspector the next day.

The State Inspector spoke at our local beeclub meeting last summer.  She had no clue what she was talking about.  She was telling us to use terramycin for varroa mites, and she said that she reports ALL colony losses as CCD, to get better numbers trying to get funding for research.  

My county inspector does not have a computer.  The ONLY method he uses for checking for varroa mites is to remove some drone brood and see if he can find any mites.  He says he has only found one case of AFB in his years of inspecting, and he wasn't sure if it was AFB or not so he had to get samples tested at Beltsville to be sure.  His inspections consist of looking to see if you have a laying queen, and to see if he sees many mites in sealed drone brood.

The last time I let him check some of my hives, it took him 3 hours to inspect 15 hives.  He also told me he is paid by the county commissioners.  He just bills them for his hours, and he gets paid $18 an hour - which probably explains why it takes him so long.

There are several counties in my state with no inspector.  It seems funds for inspecting are minimal.  Many beekeepers do not register apiaries, and the state does not have the money to be a nuisance to beekeepers.  It works pretty well this way.
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fish_stix
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« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2011, 08:23:10 PM »

I have some difficulty with your problem of letting a bee inspector help you out by checking for disease and pests. State bee inspectors are just that; STATE BEE INSPECTORS. You might check Virginia laws but here in FL we get inspected once a year and they're checking for AFB mostly, but will also look for Varroa and SHB. If they find AFB they mark the hive and you have to burn it, nothing more than most of us do on our own. If they find large numbers of Varroa or SHB they tell you about it and how to control it. They don't care about zoning regs or where your bees are located and don't handle any nuisance complaints. They simply inspect for disease and pests.
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kathyp
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« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2011, 08:34:25 PM »

i do understand your concern.  don't want them on my place either.  looks like you are ok in your state, but it's a good reminder for all to be aware of what their state requires.  while it is true that they will probably not hunt you down, if someone complains, it's nice to know what the requirements are. 
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
Acebird
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« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2011, 08:35:19 PM »

Quote
Near as I can tell, working with various regulatory agencies in my career, they mostly only bother you if there's been a complaint of something pretty bad happening.


Trust me it is no different with the big guys.  If you could package rat poop in Viagra and not get any complaints you could continue putting the poop in.  The customer is the red flag and once that is raised all hell breaks loose.  The system is reaction after the fact.  Thinking about systems of control that is not such a bad system.  What is bad is the cover up.  As far as I am concerned, that should be a life sentence.
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HBW1412
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« Reply #10 on: February 08, 2011, 08:36:09 PM »

Countryboy, you are sorta hitting the nail on the head as to why I don't want any inspectors near my hives. Like most government officials I believe they are completely inept when it comes to performing their duties. You are correct in saying that Virginia law says the state Inspector has the right to inspect any apiary and reason would suggest that one needs to register their apiary. The problem is just how unreasonable government is. If their is no law that says I MUST register it, then I will not. It's ashamed that so many things that have been done for thousands of years like bee keeping are now criminal if you don't get permission from the government.  I DO NOT believe this is the American way. Having to ask permission from my government to keep a few bees just doesn't sit right with me. AM I alone in this?

fish_stix - It's the "nothing more than most of us do on our own" part of your post that I'm getting at.  I don't need a so-called, professional state bee inspector to tell me how to do what I already know how to do.  You might argue that for someone knew to beekeeping such as myself may not know what to do about pests or diseases, but that is what sites like beemaster.com are for.  Now that we live in the age of the internet and have access to nearly endless information, not knowing what to do should be a thing of the past.  IF someone doesn't know what to do and/or doesn't take appropriate steps to treat any pests or diseases their bees have then they will not have bees very long anyway which would make the state bee inspector unnecessary.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2011, 08:47:57 PM by HBW1412 » Logged
Acebird
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2011, 08:45:29 PM »

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Having to ask permission from my government to keep a few bees just doesn't sit right with me.  Am I alone in this?

Of course you are not.  Just don't get all bound up about it.  The commercial beek is more apt to infect your hive than you infect theirs unless it is intentional.  Have a glass of wine and chill.  Enjoy the hobby.
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backyard warrior
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2011, 08:50:04 PM »

Ill be honest im not much for goverment myself.  I do however think that inspections are good for the following reasons.  Its important that the bees be inspected especially for the inexperienced beekeeper.  Inspections are important because if your bees do have a problem and its not detected the disease can be spread to other bee hives killing colonies which none of us needs.  You have to remember that drones which are male bees are excepted in all colonies besides their own, they mate with the virgin queens. As a result the drones can carry varroa and other diseases to other hives .     


Chris
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HBW1412
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2011, 09:37:43 PM »

backyard warrior - First, thank you for responding to my post.  I do see your point of view and it does have merit and I have considered that myself.  However, you and other responsible bee keepers would have already taken the appropriate steps to treat for pests and disease from drones coming from hives that were not inspected.  If you have hives within the same range as a hive that hasn't been inspected that is a host to varroa mites and has gone untreated then the proximity to your hives would suggest that varroa was already present in your area, but you had taken steps to protect your bees.  From what I understand, varroa is in nearly every hive and those hives that do survive are either varroa resistant or have had some sort of treatment. 

I'd also like to point out one more thing.  Bee inspectors only seem to inspect apiaries once or maybe twice a year.  Couldn't a disease or pest rear it's ugly head and do what damage it's going to do between these inspections?  I guess you could say the inspector could catch as many problem hives as possible, but I have a question for those of you that have to endure these inspections.  How many times have you had a state apiary inspector point out a pest or disease in your bees that you didn't already know about?  If you are a responsible bee keeper than I would like to think this answer is none.

I don't aim to anger anyone with this post, but this is a serious issue and it stems from a larger problem in our country.  Our government has run amuck with rules and regulations and I must say that sitting back with a glass of wine and chilling while government takes away freedoms regardless of how insignificant they may seem is a major part of the problems we face.
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tandemrx
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2011, 09:39:16 PM »

We don't have to register our hives as hobbyists in WI, but we can, if we want to have the state inspector come out and inspect our hives . . . for free.

I love the service.  We have a great local inspector who is a hobbyist himself, but obviously very experienced and well known in the bee community around here and with the bee distributors.  He does a great inspection and I learn a ton - we have some different opinions on management, but doesn't everybody and I still learn a lot from him and he can't make me manage my hives in a particular manner, just offer suggestions.  Plus I get the low down on what is going on in my area with other beeks and he looks for and tracks disease, plus he notes hive losses over winter (or otherwise) and this is great data if the state decides to track it.

He is much more knowledgeable about diseases than I am and does good evaluation for this, teaching me along the way.

I don't see a down side.  (did I mention it was free   grin and he comes each spring and fall  cheesy)
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tandemrx
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2011, 09:47:08 PM »

And in answer to your last comment regarding the notion that if I was a responsible beekeeper then I would notice all disease . . . .

Going into my 5th year and there is still so much I don't know.  I have never seen foulbrood and wouldn't know it if I saw it (I might have suspicions, but I wouldn't know for sure).

I don't know how to determine if tracheal mites are a problem and the beauty of our inspector is that if he suspected either he would direct samples to state lab.

I didn't know what sacbrood looked like and he found samples in my hive to show me (wasn't a big problem, but I consider myself "responsible" but I didn't know how to look for sacbrood).

I believe that if he suspected CCD in my hives that he would be the one who could document it and get me some funds from some CCD relief process within the state.

Again, I don't feel it is instrusive and I don't see a down side.  It is the government, but one of the few times I get a service from the government that does house calls.  grin
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WPG
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2011, 10:02:09 PM »

We don't have to register hives here, but then the spray regulations don't cover the bees either.

All of our State Apiarists have been top notch bee people from the beginning.

The latest one had bees when he was 12.

We didn't have an Apiarist for a few years due to some stupid cost cutting.  But we still had inspecters, 3 for the entire state.

All the ones I've met are bee people not pencil pushers.
They are looking for AFB and mites, and a lot of territory to cover, but will talk with you, show you how they check-drone larva & ether roll.

The State Apiarist and the inspectors will attend the little club meetings, if invited, answer questions, give updates etc., at night on their own time.

I'd just as soon have the bee inspector, county health inspector, county sheriff already know me-in a good way-before some busybody spouts off a bunch of crap.

Most likely they'll handle it on their own and never bother me.

Now if you're concerned about that 'green manure crop' then I guess you have something to be concerned about them G-men.


I like my solitude and freedom as much as the next one.

And I like being free of hog cholrea, typhoid, small pox, whouping cough, polio, hoof & mouth, rabies and more than I can count.

Do I think the Patriot Act will keep me safe?  Nope
Do I need the sheriff to keep me safe?  Nope
Do I think I'm safe?  Yep
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iddee
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2011, 10:12:14 PM »

Maybe you should move a bit south to NC. We have a group of inspectors that come when you call. Every month, every week, once a year, or never. We don't register apiaries. We call the inspector when needed or wanted. They not only inspect, but spend time making suggestions, teaching, etc.

If you sell more than 10 hives per year as a commercial business, then you have to buy a permit and be inspected annually.

I don't think you can get a wrong answer from one of our inspectors. If they aren't sure, they will find out for you and get back to you with the correct answer.

PS. They are all extremely friendly, the inspections are free for hobbyist, they will come to local bee clubs and speak for free. They travel all over the world learning about different aspects of beekeeping.

In other words, we have the best of all worlds with our rules and inspectors.

On second thought, if you are less then 10 years experienced, maybe you should stay there. We don't want or need beeks that don't recognize when they have communicable diseases and won't ask for help.
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HBW1412
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2011, 10:22:34 PM »

tandemrx - You have made some excellent points and have said nothing that I can disagree with.  Thank you for responding.  You've definitely given me food for thought.  I will contact my county extension office and see what is involved in an inspection here in Virginia.  I am new to beekeeping and certainly can use all the advice I can get.  I still don't like the idea of some know it all coming to check my bees.  It sounds like you are lucky by having an inspector that knows what they are doing.  Countryboy in an earlier post didn't have your luck.  I may ask around and see what other bee keepers in my area think about the inspector here.  If the local inspector is an idiot I will NOT allow them near my hive.  I'd rather get to know someone in my area that has experience with bees and have them, a friend, come over to take a look instead of a government employee.

WPG - I have nothing to hide.  I simply believe government has overstepped its bounds by regulating everything in our lives.  It seems you like the bee inspector and I have no problem with that.  If you want to - REQUEST - an inspector to come out and give you any tips and check your hives that's fine, but being told I MUST allow an inspection is what gets to me.

iddee - You were doing so well until you had a second thought.  Don't worry though, I will not be moving to North Carolina.  Why would I want to move to a state that has a government that shows so little regard for its citizens that it FORCES them to get their permission to sell a few bees out of their back yard?  
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kathyp
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2011, 10:24:46 PM »

there is a big difference between asking for help and being forced to allow inspectors on your place.  for me, it's not about the inspections, but a matter of principle.

  my place.  i decide who comes and goes.

there is one exception to my distaste for registration/inspection.  that would be if they were apt to be spraying and would warn me, providing my hives were registered.  in that case, it might be worth it.  no spraying here, so no need.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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