Let Clarksville Homeowners Keep Honeybees!
European Honey bees are generally gentle in nature and play a vital role of pollination in both rural and urban ecosystems. They are an important pollinator for native and cultivated plants. Honey bees play a crucial role in the production of food for humans, livestock and wildlife. Roughly one third of what we eat is pollinated by bees.
According to research conducted in the State of Florida, European Honey bees will naturally colonize an area with up to two large gentle colonies per acre where Africanized Honey bees can colonize an area with up to 200 small aggressive colonies per acre.
Having managed European Honey bee colonies in an urban area will help keep Africanized Honey bee numbers at a minimum due to competition for nectar and pollen resources.
The Apiary Section of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture's Regulation Services Division has a well written Voluntary Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMP) Policy that has been developed by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Apiary Technical Advisory Committee at the request of the Tennessee Municipal League and the Tennessee beekeepers to provide guidelines for beekeepers maintaining honey bees in urban areas. These BMP’s help ensure that beekeepers are keeping their managed colonies of European Honey bees in a safe and responsible manner. The BMPs regulate the amount of hives one can own based on individual lot size and lay out guidelines for placement of hives that are considerate of safety and neighbors.
Unfortunately, the City of Clarksville views honeybees as livestock. This places excessive limitations and subjects them to zoning laws which would require hives to be 200 feet from every property line. Most in-city lots are not large enough to accommodate this requirement.
We want the City of Clarksville to follow The Voluntary Honey Bee Best Management Practices Policy instead of zoning laws made for livestock. Cows, and bees should not be lumped together and subject to the same requirements. Back yard beekeeping is a sustainable way to keep and help the honeybees. We believe having an ordinance that specifically allows backyard beekeepers to keep honeybees in areas zoned residential is critically important to the survival of the European honeybee.
At this time, one beekeeper in Clarksville, Elizabeth Hood, has been cited with a violation notice for having honeybees on her R2 property, located within in a residential neighborhood. The Zoning Board of Appeals, County Commissioners, and the Planning and Development Director of the Montgomery County Planning and Zoning Department now have the power to make a determination as to whether or not being a backyard beekeeper in a residential area will be permitted. Their determination will affect most of the backyard beekeepers, and their honeybees, in Clarksville."
Considering the plight of the honeybee, and the benefits they provide, we believe it should not be made more difficult or even illegal to keep honeybees in your backyard. Please allow Elizabeth Hood to keep her bees on her property and change the Zoning Ordinance to allow for backyard beekeeping in residential properties throughout the City of Clarksville.
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