BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bees are already in Bridgewater Township — but it seems the state wants to have more of a say regarding keeping them.
New regulations have been outlined by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and many residents are concerned about what that could mean for beekeeping in the area. Several came out to the Dec. 18 council meeting to express concerns and get thoughts from the council.
Council president Allen Kurdyla said the township’s governing body has yet to receive any information from the state regarding the keeping of bees on local property. He added that residents would be given the opportunity to present their opinions and concerns, both that night and in the future.
Charlie Ilsley, a volunteer firefighter, spoke on behalf of a number of other beekeepers.
“Unfortunately, you haven’t received the regulations,” he said.
Ilsley pointed out that comments regarding the proposed regulations are due back to the state by Jan. 19, and he said the regulations did not follow the intent of the law, including preemptive beekeeping.
Those regulations, according to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s website, include supplying at least one gallon of water per day per colony, and also divide beekeepers into two primary classifications, commercial and hobbyist. In addition, according to the regulations, hives must be 10 feet from the property line, 25 feet from a roadside or public walkway and 85 feet from public places.
It also sets other standards, including banning hives on anything less than a quarter acre, and limiting the number of hives to two on properties between a quarter acre and 5 acres. Additional regulations would require a fence around the bees, and make new beekeepers take a course.
Ilsley added that the submission of such rules is “where things got hung up.”
“Keep us in the loop,” said Kurdyla. “We assure you your voices will be heard.”
Bonnie Pyler, president of the New Jersey Morris/Somerset Beekeepers Association, said publicly that beekeeping is a hobby, and that regulations such as limiting the square footage of a beekeeper’s property could affect what she termed hive management.
“It’s basically unfair,” said Pyler, who also said that the beekeeping community has experienced “onerous management.”
Pyler said that one town, which she did not name, had influenced beekeeping management and rules, and asked the council to consider the immediate and long-term effects of beekeeping in areas such as pollination, wildlife and flowers. She also asked the council to contact the League of Municipalities on the matter.
Discussion is expected to continue on the new rules.
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