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NJ Lawmakers Propose Rules to Make Backyard Beekeeping More Difficult

In September, New Jersey lawmakers have backed off on a plan to regulate beekeeping in the state, only to resubmit the Revised Proposed Rules again last month.

The law, if adopted, will favor migratory commercial beekeepers and beekeepers serving production agriculture, at the expense of small, backyard and citizen beekeepers.

Here is the synopsis of some of the material changes included in the proposed rules:

  • Residential lots of less than a one-quarter acre would be prevented from maintaining a beehive, unless the hives on these properties were installed before July 31, 2015, in which case a waiver would need to be filed;

  • Residential lots of one-quarter acre to less than five acres may seek a waiver to keep two hives per lot;

  • On a residential lot of more than five acres, a person may seek a waiver to keep up to 10 hives per lot;

  • Adding a new definition of the Adequate Source of Water, to address insufficient water sources near the hives that contribute to bees seeking water elsewhere, particularly at swimming pools;

  • Adding mechanisms for intrastate shipments in commercial transactions for bees originating in New Jersey;

  • imposing new baseline and continuing education requirements for beekeepers;

  • Implementing mandatory electronic registration system for all beekeepers;

  • Adding a new enforcement provision: any hobbyist beekeeper who fails to register the bee yard where hives are overwintered and/or violates the rules will be given a warning and the chance to take corrective actions. Three violations in one registration period may result in revocation of the ability to keep bees. Non-qualitied commercial beekeepers may be restrained through Superior Court Action.

Although the stated intent of the proposed rules is to expand the regulatory framework to control diseases of bees and address the Colony Collapse Disorder, another reason seems to be to commercialize beekeeping reserving it to pollination of commercial farms, and to prevent potential conflicts between beekeepers and their neighbors. Curiously, the proposed standards seek to specifically carve out migratory commercial beekeepers and qualified commercial beekeepers serving production agriculture from these requirements.

The proposed rules have been filed on November 20, 2017 and are open for public comment until January 19, 2018.

You can submit written comments to:

Joseph Zoltowski

Director Division of Plant Industry

NJ Department of Agriculture

PO Box 330 Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330

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