Featured image (above) is from healthsciences.utah.edu.
There are 2 bills about beekeeping this session at the Utah legislature that will come up in committee this week. One of them (HB0115) makes slight modifications to make it easier for hobbiests to keep bees. The other (HB0315) includes radical changes to current beekeeping laws, including making it more difficult for beekeepers to grow their operations, and criminalizing some aspects of beekeeping with excessive fines.
We support any legislation that makes it easier to keep bees in the Beehive State, given the struggles that the bee industry is currently experiencing.
Call to Action!
We at The Honey Company will contact our representatives to encourage them to vote FOR HB0115 and AGAINST HB0315. If you agree, please do the same. It’s critical to the bee industry that your voice is heard. Here is a link to find contact information for your representative.
Copy and paste the following email message and fill in the blanks:
Dear Representative _____,
As a beekeeper, I believe that it will best serve the Utah bee industry if you vote FOR HB0115 and AGAINST HB0315.
The following are members of the Utah House Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Committee. They will be voting in committee on Wednesday about the bills. Please email them before Wednesday to voice your support. Below is text that you can copy and paste in email.
We think bill HB0115, sponsored by Representative Marc Roberts, will be good for Utah. Currently, all beekeepers must obtain a license from the Utah Department of Agriculture to keep bees. Many hobbiest beekeepers are unknowingly breaking this law. HB0115 makes licensing optional. Making licensing voluntary, we think, will encourage more people to register, not out of fear, but because they desire help from the Ag Department.
For those of us who believe that less government involvement in our lives is a good thing, this bill takes back some of the power that was given to government needlessly. If a law is not being enforced, chances are it is not a needful law. If it’s not a needful law, let’s exercise our votes and remove it.
HB0115 will make it so that a municipality (city, town, etc.) cannot restrict people from keeping bees.
The modifications of the bee bill make it so the apiarist would be notified before a county bee inspector could inspect hives. This makes it so inspectors can’t get into your hives without you knowing about it. You would need to be asked, notified, or served a warrant.
Currently, beekeepers must extract honey in a bee-tight place (indoors). HB0115 removes this rule. People would be able to extract outdoors. New and popular innovations, like the flow hive, make it so beekeepers could harvest and extract honey in the apiary. This law is outdated and unnecessary.
Extracting honey in a bee-tight place was originally on the books because extracting outdoors may encourage robbing. We don’t need a law when common sense will do.
We encourage you to contact your House representative and ask them to vote against HB0315 by Representative Kay McIff.
Alex Grover of “Sustainable Beekeeping in Utah” wrote and shared the following as a letter to his representative. He said it very well. We copied the text and pasted it here.
“I am asking you to vote against HB 315 for the following reasons:
“1. The listed two mile spacing of the apiaries is not based on science or experience. There is also no limit on the number of hives in an area. This make the bill useless for preserving natural resources.
“2. The wording of the bill prevents a hard working small Utah beekeeper from becoming a larger Utah beekeeper. I respect the hard work that went into the commercial beekeepers businesses, but I do not think it is right to penalize up and coming beekeepers who are also working hard to make something for themselves.
“3. This will raise the value of current beekeeping operations, making them difficult for an instate beekeeper to buy. In the long run it will make it very likely that large beekeepers from out of state will run most of the instate operations because they have deep enough pockets to pay for the new value this bill will create for existing apiaries.
“4. HB 315 throws property rights out the window by placing emphasis on protecting non land owners and allowing them unlimited numbers of hives, but limiting a land owner from placing 21 hives on a property, whether that property is 20 acres or 2000 acres.
“5. None of the definitions of commercial operations or apiary sizes are based on current business practices or expectations.
“6. Many of my clients and friends complain about not having enough bees to get good crops. This bill will limit the number of bees in areas that are already under served for honeybee pollination.
“I am currently a beekeeper and would very much like to expand and become a small specialty honey producer. This bill will make it nearly impossible to achieve that dream. All of the other small beekeepers with aspirations agree. While some us might be a threat to a lazy, large beekeeper, that would be on him for not maintaining the quality of his business. A successful large beekeeper has nothing to fear from any up and coming business.
“In closing, HB 315 only exists to protect a few established large beekeepers at the expense of many small and non-threatening new beekeepers. I ask you again to vote against this bill and allow the free market to reward good beekeepers of all sizes.”