Beekeeping

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The City of Princeton’s Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing Sept. 26 for a proposed amendment to Princeton’s city ordinances. It would amend Article 505, ‘Animals and Fowl,’ to permit beekeeping within the city limits. The meeting begins 7 p.m. at the city council chambers off Bee Street.

PRINCETON — There’s a Bee Street in Princeton, but no ordinances that allow beekeeping within city limits. Plans are in motion to amend a city ordinance that could regulate local beekeeping and even bring demonstration hives to Princeton’s growing municipal complex.

The City of Princeton’s Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing Sept. 26 for a proposed amendment to Princeton’s city ordinances. It would amend Article 505, “Animals and Fowl,” to permit beekeeping within the city limits. The meeting begins 7 p.m. at the city council chambers off Bee Street.

“There’s some interest in beekeeping,” Code Enforcement Director Bill J. Buzzo Jr. said Thursday. “We don’t have a specific city code that addresses it, and we talked about it in our last planning commission meeting.”

Buzzo said the planning commission will take its recommendations to the Princeton City Council. Two public readings will be necessary if the council decides to go ahead with the amendment.

Deputy Code Director Ty Smith recently gave the planning commission a presentation about beekeeping and what regulations the city will need if the hobby’s allowed within city limits. Smith has been a beekeeper for about 21 years. He lives in the Glenwood area, but he keeps his hives at a relative’s property along Route 20. The bees get more sunlight there and as a result, work longer days to make honey.

Several factors will go into drafting a city beekeeping ordinance. West Virginia has regulations in place for the hobby.

“The first thing we’ll do is adopt the State Code and then there are beekeeping laws, and there is a thing called Best Management Practices; and you have to register your bees with the state,” Smith said. “And the state apiary code has set backs for property lines, and we will adopt that as well as make some restrictions of our own.”

The city will look at each site where a hobby beekeeper wants to put some hives. There will be a certain of footage from property line to property line for hives, and keepers will be required to have a 6-foot-high “fly wall” such a hedge or fence, Smith said.

“This causes bees to fly up, and once the bees go up they will maintain foraging distances of 25 to 50 feet high. Then you have to have a water source so the bees won’t be constantly searching your neighborhood for water,” Smith stated. “And all of that comes right out of the West Virginia laws.”

If the amended ordinance is approved, the aim is to actually have a bee apiary next year at the new city complex, Smith said. There would be three or four bee hives that could be used to help train local beekeepers and share information such as where to purchase bees and get the right supplies. Local artists are interested in doing bee-related artwork, plus civic groups and organizations such as the Boy Scouts could visit.

Smith said he is collaborating with William Lambert, owner of the Blue Ridge Bee Company which is opening on Mercer Street. Plans call for having screened-in areas where people can watch while work’s being done with the hives and exhibits such as pollinated and non-pollinated gardens.

“So we’re hoping to get some gardeners involved,” Smith said, adding that he hoped to get the Hammer and Stain on Mercer Street involved with building and painting hive boxes.

Keeping bees locally will be part of a grassroots effort to educate the public about how bees work and why they are necessary, he said. 

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline.com

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