Beekeeping in Urban/Sub-Urban Environments
Honey bees have played a vital role in Ohio’s agricultural industry for over 100 years. Pollinators are critical to Ohio and our Nation’s economy, food security, and environmental health. Honeybee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion dollars annually nationally in value to agricultural crops each year, and provides the foundation to healthy diets, abundant with fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
Ohio has a rich history of beekeeping with many advancements occurring in Ohio that have shaped national approaches to beekeeping. Records indicate that honeybees were present in Ohio as early as 1788. In fact, the “Father of American Beekeeping”, Lorenzo Langstroth developed the modern beehive in Oxford, Ohio around 1860.
Honey bees have successfully and safely been kept in urban and sub-urban settings for many years. They contribute to the success of individual and community gardens and pollinate fruit and nut trees in yards. Beekeeping is a growing in popularity with more than 1000 new beekeepers picking up the hobby in Ohio alone every year. As of 2015 there were over 36,000 bee hives in the state, averaging more than 400 colonies per County.
Honey bees are kept safely in many large cities worldwide including New York City, Paris France, Downtown Chicago Illinois, Boston Massachusetts, Seattle Washington and closer to home, on the Statehouse property in Columbus, and at the InterContinental Hotel in Cleveland next door to the Cleveland Clinic.
Ohio already has legislation in the Ohio Revised Code (Section 909), regulating the practice in beekeeping in Ohio and providing for inspection of bee hives in Ohio. However, some practical guidelines are required when keeping bees within an urban or sub-urban area. This includes providing a water source, offsets, and flyway barriers. They are designed to reduce the already small chance of encountering a honey bee. These practices are outlined in OSBA’s Best Management Practices found on the OSBA website (http://www.ohiostatebeekeepers.org/resources/beekeeping-best-management-practices/) and are reflected in the following Model Beekeeping Ordinance.
The below model ordinance was developed after reviewing existing local laws in Ohio, as well as laws and model ordinances found in other states. This ordinance encourages responsible beekeeping within an urban/sub-urban environment while placing reasonable requirements and restrictions to address the safety of the public. It also addresses the flaws and/or weaknesses found in many of Ohio’s existing local laws.