Is Beekeeping a Constitutional right?

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RedGuitar

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Turned on the news this morning and this is one of the top stories:
http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/10724457/

To summarize it: a lady in a town about an hour north of me starting keeping bees in her back yard last March, and the town passed an ordinance last May saying all bee hives had to be at least 75 feet from a neighbor's property line. The woman refused to take her beehives down, and is now facing possible jail time.

So, let the discussion begin. Do her neighbors have a legitimate concern? Is she in the wrong for not obeying a law that was passed after the fact? Is the town wrong to pass such a law?

It should be noted that honeybees are the official NC state insect, and are kept at the governor's mansion in downtown Raleigh, as well as at several local children's science museums in the middle of cities.

And... discuss.
 

brewingmeister

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A buddy of mine would love this. A guy behind his small lot has some bees and he hates it. I keep asking him to get me some honey.
 

DakotaRules

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I would say to move it for safety reasons. Even though the law was passed after the fact. Bees can be relocated with no issues as long as the queen stays alive. I'm also allergic.
 

bosdave

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I believe that it is a constitutional right. However, I don't think that it is a right that cannot be restricted. See the right to own guns.

Generally speaking one's rights end the moment that they infringe upon another person's rights. While it is acceptable to have bees in your yard, if you cannot keep your bees in your yard and they cause physical or emotional stress on your neighbor, well that is not acceptable.

If I have 8 dogs, I will have issues if I cannot keep them in my yard. Perhaps more specifically, if I keep chickens for eggs, I also must keep them from bothering my neighbors.
 

onthekeg

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I suppose the lawyers aren't aware that bees travel 2-3 miles from their hive daily.
Ya, 75 feet, that will make a HUGE difference.
I do believe that people should do whats "right" when its not a big deal, but there is probably much more to the story than the news team is reporting about.
 

johnsma22

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My neighbor thought he had the right to allow his ugly, viscous dogs to roam free in our neighborhood. That right ended when it attacked my son in my backyard and I beat that mangy POS to death with a baseball bat! The cops showed up and I was arrested! Fortunately for me the charges were dismissed by a judge who actually had a brain! He told everyone in court that day that I did what any father who cared for his children would do. He castigated the local PD and DA for even thinking about charging me with a crime over this.

Final chapter of this story is that my neighbor still allowed his idiot canine menaces to roam free after that. One attacked another child in the neighborhood and the authorities had it put down this time!
 

onthekeg

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My neighbor thought he had the right to allow his ugly, viscous dog to roam free in our neighborhood. That right ended when it attacked my son in my backyard and I beat that mangy POS to death with a baseball bat! The cops showed up and I was arrested! Fortunately for me the charges were dismissed by a judge who actually had a brain! He told everyone in court that day that I did what any father who cared for his children would do. He castigated the local PD and DA for even thinking about charging me with a crime over this.

Final chapter of this story is that my neighbor still allowed his idiot canine menace to roam free after that. It attacked another child in the neighborhood and the authorities had it put down this time!
I thought you killed the dog? Did he have 2?
 

Rehlgood

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"Generally speaking one's rights end the moment that they infringe upon another person's rights"

I believe this would work both ways. Regardless, the woman had her bees prior to the law and should not have to move them. I wonder if anyone actually tried asking her nicely or if they just threatened her with the law?
 

johnsma22

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My mistake guys (post corrected). I should have said dogs! He had two doberman and one rottweiler. I put one of the doberman's out of it's misery. One of the remaining doberman was put down by the town after the second attack and he still has the rottweiler left. It was the oldest of the three dogs he had and is kept inside now. I only see it when he takes out on the leash to do his duty. He finally learned his lesson about what it means to be a good neighbor.
 

Lunchtime

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I suppose the lawyers aren't aware that bees travel 2-3 miles from their hive daily.
Ya, 75 feet, that will make a HUGE difference.
I do believe that people should do whats "right" when its not a big deal, but there is probably much more to the story than the news team is reporting about.
This is exactly what I thought...Is somebody going to tell the bees about this? Do they have an electrical bee fence? On another note...Don't piss off the bee lady. When she starts breeding Africanized killer bees, you will all feel her wrath!! lol
 

Pilgarlic

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I recently fought an urban beekeeping ordinance here. I believe that there is no justification for regulation of urban beekeeping on any scale, except that the keeping of Africanized bees should, of course, be absolutely prohibited.

First, honeybees are not aggressive. Unless you molest them (inadvertently or deliberately) they will not sting you. Doesn't matter whether you're ten feet away from the colony or a mile. They're just not that into you.

As to the risk of accidental stings to the allergic, an allergic person can take steps to avoid any accidental molestation of bees that might result in a defensive sting. They're not going to come around just to play in your yard. They're little pollen, nectar and water gathering robots. Don't plant flowers that attract them. Don't keep a water source that attracts them. Don't walk barefoot in the clover (or eradicate the clover). Carry an Epi-Pen. You face a specific, manageable risk. Manage it.

Policy question. Do we want honeybees in the urban environment or not? Bees are enormously beneficial to many forms of life, including our own, in many direct and indirect ways. One third of our food supply is directly dependent upon pollenation by bees. Their population is collapsing for as yet inscrutable reasons. Do we want to contribute to this collapse by regulating them out of backyards?

On the Africanized bee issue, it's been clearly shown that keeping domesticated, unAfricanized bees inhibits the recruitment of Africanized bees into an area.

The fact that someone is scared of bees doesn't justify regulation. Even a minor nuisance doesn't rise to the level of justifying denying or limiting another's freedom. It's a balance. Urban beekeeping poses no threat or nuisance, in my opinion, that justifies its regulation.
 

bosdave

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I recently fought an urban beekeeping ordinance here. I believe that there is no justification for regulation of urban beekeeping on any scale, except that the keeping of Africanized bees should, of course, be absolutely prohibited.

First, honeybees are not aggressive. Unless you molest them (inadvertently or deliberately) they will not sting you. Doesn't matter whether you're ten feet away from the colony or a mile. They're just not that into you.

As to the risk of accidental stings to the allergic, an allergic person can take steps to avoid any accidental molestation of bees that might result in a defensive sting. They're not going to come around just to play in your yard. They're little pollen, nectar and water gathering robots. Don't plant flowers that attract them. Don't keep a water source that attracts them. Don't walk barefoot in the clover (or eradicate the clover). Carry an Epi-Pen. You face a specific, manageable risk. Manage it.

Policy question. Do we want honeybees in the urban environment or not? Bees are enormously beneficial to many forms of life, including our own, in many direct and indirect ways. One third of our food supply is directly dependent upon pollenation by bees. Their population is collapsing for as yet inscrutable reasons. Do we want to contribute to this collapse by regulating them out of backyards?

On the Africanized bee issue, it's been clearly shown that keeping domesticated, unAfricanized bees inhibits the recruitment of Africanized bees into an area.

The fact that someone is scared of bees doesn't justify regulation. Even a minor nuisance doesn't rise to the level of justifying denying or limiting another's freedom. It's a balance. Urban beekeeping poses no threat or nuisance, in my opinion, that justifies its regulation.
There is so much wrong with this post, I hardly know where to begin!

So for the sake of argument I am highly allergic to bees (I am not). According to you, and your need to have bees in a highly populated area, I will therefore not be able to:
1. Have certain plants in my own yard
2. Not have any sort of water source that may (or may not) attract bees.
3. Walk barefoot through my own yard in case there is clover there.

Yes, I understand that these precautions are going to be somewhat relevant regardless if you keep your bees nearby, but at the same time if you are keeping a hive of any size nearby the risk will go up.

My point is that it is absurd to have any hobby that can negatively impact your neighbors, on their own property.

As for the usefulness of bees, I doubt that anyone is denying their utility, but that does not make it reasonable to put them in highly populated areas.

As for your point that a minor nuisance does not justify denying or limiting another's freedom. I simply cannot agree with this. There are sound ordinances in most communities for this reason. Or in converse, it is a minor nuisance for you to not play music too loud during assumed sleeping hours o please don't inhibit my freedom to a good night of sleep in my own house.

In many aspects this country would be a lot better if we all could start thinking about how our actions effect those around us and not require legislation to improve a community.
 

Pilgarlic

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Bees exist. If you're highly allergic, I'm not suggesting you should be prohibited from growing certain flowers, et cetera. I'm saying you probably shouldn't. Whether or not I keep bees. And since you're behaving wisely and taking measures, rationally, to minimize your risk, the minimal risk my bees expose you to is mitigated.

If the threshold for regulation were "any hobby that can negatively impact your neighbors, on their own property" we'd be in trouble.
 

Airborneguy

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Well one thing is for certain, it is definitely not a Constitutional Right to be allowed to keep bees unless I've failed to notice the mention of it in the Constitution during my multiple readings of the document.

It is therefore up to the legislature/local councils, etc to figure out what works for their respective areas in terms of people looking to keep bees. The laws were recently relaxed here in NYC and apparently bee keeping is becoming popular in Brooklyn of all places. I definitely agree with some restrictions on how bees must be kept in urban/semi-urban environments, but any law created specifically to target one person, as this one seems to have been, is highly suspect even if the regulation passes the "smell test".
 

bosdave

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Bees exist. If you're highly allergic, I'm not suggesting you should be prohibited from growing certain flowers, et cetera. I'm saying you probably shouldn't. Whether or not I keep bees. And since you're behaving wisely and taking measures, rationally, to minimize your risk, the minimal risk my bees expose you to is mitigated.

If the threshold for regulation were "any hobby that can negatively impact your neighbors, on their own property" we'd be in trouble.
Do explain your last part. If you are arguing the connotative associations with 'negatively impact' I would therefore, argue that we ought to pursue a common sense approach. For example: Home brewing causes minimal noise, no physical effect on any neighbor and often is done out of sight to any neighbor. Therefore it is common sense to say that home brewing, as a hobby, does not negatively impact one's neighbors, on their property or off of it.

Back to the bees. I am certainly not an expert but I am relatively certain that bees can move hives at a whim. It is neither common nor uncommon (somewhere in between). As stated I am not an expert on this but I did have a neighbor a few doors down keep bees and have them move to a stack of wood in my yard one summer. They stung my dogs who were simply curious and I asked the lady who kept them to come retrieve them. It was a long process and quite inconvenient.
 

Pilgarlic

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I was speaking in general, I wasn't referring to home brewing. Generally, we don't limit people's use of their own property without good reason. If any nuisance, real or perceived, is sufficient we'll be regulated to death.

Bees do move, and they swarm. They do that whether they're domesticated or wild. A beekeeper will be happy to remove bees from your property, though, for free.

It really comes to this, in my opinion. Do we want bees in the urban environment or don't we? If not, we should forget about setbacks from lot lines, et cetera and just outlaw beekeeping. Because, as noted, bees travel up to five miles to forage. What's a 75' setback to 10,000 bees that travel 5 miles? But that's not enough. As I said, bees exist. So if a feral bee colony moves into the hollow of my grapefruit tree, I should be obligated to eradicate it. If it's a nuisance or a menace, it is so whether I have put it there or not, and I should be prohibited from allowing a substantial nuisance or menace on my property. So in addition to not keeping bees, if we're going to be consistent, we should be obligated to eradicate them when we find them, particularly since kept bees are, if anything SAFER than feral.

The thing is, bees are not a menace. Sure, some perceive them to be, but they're not. I'm not willing to give up my freedom to keep bees because someone else doesn't understand.

For the record, I have tens of thousands of bees living in my urban backyard. We, adults, children and dogs, use our yard alot, and nobody has ever been stung by any of them except when I am in the box actively inspecting, and then not often. I inspect my boxes without gloves. Most experienced beekeepers do.
 

zeg

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Bees may travel a long way in search of flowers, but the concentration is going to be higher near the hive for the simple reason that every bee will return there. I haven't spent much time near bee hives, but of the ones I've seen, there were significantly more bees buzzing around near to the hives than there were a fairly short distance away. I don't know whether 75 feet is a carefully reasoned distance, but it seems fairly reasonable in terms of putting the neighbor's property out of that concentrated area.

Bees are great, bees are important, and I'm glad that people have an interest in keeping them. However, a hive will significantly increase the number of bees in its immediate area, and it's not outrageous to respect that someone may not want such a feature immediately next to their property.

And.. Constitutional right? No, decidedly not. This is clearly in the realm of local and state regulation (except perhaps where it impacts interstate commerce...).
 

Shooter

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Well one thing is for certain, it is definitely not a Constitutional Right to be allowed to keep bees unless I've failed to notice the mention of it in the Constitution during my multiple readings of the document.
I also could not recall anything in the Constitution and its various amendments addressing the keeping of bees. I was so confused that I had to, once again, review this important document and was flabbergasted when I realized that our founding fathers and successive generations failed to provide for this important task, so VITAL to the building of a free nation!!

...and it only took 15 posts for someone to bring this up! :confused::p
 

Pilgarlic

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I will grant that someone "may not want it". So? Why? Is that preference enough to compel a prohibition? I have a neighbor who despises oak trees and their leaves. He removed the oaks from his own property. Let's raise the ante and say he's quite allergic to the oak tree's pollen. He "doesn't want" my oak trees and he has a medical condition that substantiates that preference. Oak tree setback? Prohibition? Surely not. Point is, a "preference" or even a limited nuisance isn't enough to justify the regulation.

Sure, the concentration is greater nearer the hives. That's why I pointed out that, keeping 10's of thousands in my backyard we've had NO incident. Do the bees sense that I'm not a bee bigot and thus leave me, my visitors, my family and my dogs alone? Pshaw. They're simply not a problem. You don't even know that they're there until you get about 10 feet from the colony. They fly up out of the box and for all practical purposes disappear as they widely disperse in their foraging. So what is it that makes the neighbor "not want" the bees there, and should that matter? Shouldn't their "not want" have some reasonable basis before it becomes a basis for limiting MY freedoms? Shouldn't that reasonable basis for concern be articulated before we jump into regulation? Can anyone articulate that reasonable basis for concern? I haven't heard it.

Bees are beneficial, unaggressive and almost entirely harmless. Leave them and their keepers alone.
 

Airborneguy

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Shouldn't that reasonable basis for concern be articulated before we jump into regulation?
Nearly instant death for severely allergic people.

I believe bees can certainly have a place in urban/semi-urban environments, but I don't see how this is not a situation where some regulation is certainly in order. When bee keeping, you are bringing a much higher concentration of bees into an area populated by humans than naturally would occur. To deny that is ignorance. I very rarely see bees in my neighborhood. If a close neighbor set up a hive, I'd certainly see an increase in that number.

I certainly don't believe that a neighbor simply "not wanting" bees near them constitutes a scenario for the creation of regulation, but an allergic person's quality of life within an urban setting far outweighs your right to keep bees without limit or regulation. At least up until the point that we are considering the amount of bees involved, ie, if your bee keeping would subject your neighbors to an increased amount of bees on their property, then it is certainly within reason to regulate.

We're not talking about an oak tree that stays on my property. Your bees will certainly be doing their work on other peoples' property. That fact absolutely dictates that some regulation is in order to balance the interests of those involved, whether they are choosing to be or not.
 

Pilgarlic

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A constitutional right? To demonstrate that, one would have to argue that it's a deprivation of property without due process, i suppose, but that would be a tenuous argument. It seems silly and unnecessary to take the issue on in constitutional terms. But to simply say that if something isn't specifically listed in the Constitution it's not protected is like saying Noah had two of every species on the Ark. Come to think of it, one who believes the first might be inclined to believe the latter...
 

Cromacster

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The question of whether or not laws/ordinances/regulations are constitutional always brings me back to this...



edit: sorry for the crappy video, only one I could find.
 
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Pilgarlic

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Airborne, I disagree with you for a simple reason. First, the "nearly instant death" scenario of true anaphylactic shock is extremely rare. In fact, " is a gross exaggeration of that very rare reaction. But the reason I disagree with you is that I don't think that regulation of the bees is either necessary or sufficient to protect that allergic person. First, is the regulation necessary? No, because, first, my bees don't present a risk. They only sting defensively. Don't disturb them and you won't be stung. Also not necessary because those few who have this reaction will certainly not attract these insects to their yards with nectar plants, and bees don't wander around aimlessly. Also not necessary because there are other ways for that person to protect himself, for example, by carrying an epi-pen. And, regulation would certainly not be sufficient to protect that person. Anaphylactic shock can be brought about by wasps, also, which are much more likely to sting you. Or even by ant bites. So you'd better carry that pen anyway, hadn't you?

If a regulation is neither necessary nor sufficient, leave it off the books.

The concentration is not an issue if they do no harm. And they do no harm. Particularly since the severely allergic person can take measures to a) keep bees from visiting and b) protect their health (carry an epi-pen. wouldn't you?). Severely allergic people should do these things to protect themselves whether I have bees or not.
 

Homercidal

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So... Should I be forced to cut down all of my walnut trees because my neighbor is allergic to walnuts?

Those darn squirrels are always carrying the walnuts into his yard too!
 

GulfCoastGirl

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My neighbor thought he had the right to allow his ugly, viscous dogs to roam free in our neighborhood.

This I gotta see..... pictures? :D



One third of our food supply is directly dependent upon pollenation by bees. Their population is collapsing for as yet inscrutable reasons.

That is definitely true. If I had property I would definitely take up beekeeping, however since I'm in a residential neighborhood with kids who like to play all over the neighborhood.... I'll refrain. I don't need an ordinance to tell me it's not a good idea where I live.

Regarding the lady in the story in the OP.... just how many bees does she have? I would think there is a difference between having say 10 hives and say 200. Perhaps a fair compromise would be to simply put a limit on the number that can be kept by residents in that County. Why does it have to be all or nothing?
 

Airborneguy

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That wasn't addressed to you, AB.
I apologize then. I wasn't sure where you were going with that one.

In fact, " is a gross exaggeration of that very rare reaction.
I'm allergic to shellfish and from what I've heard from friends who are allergic to bee stings, that allergy is worse. From what I know of my anaphalxsis (unfortunately its how I found out I was allergic), death can come within minutes if not treated.

They only sting defensively. Don't disturb them and you won't be stung.
While this is generally true, "disturbing" bees takes on different forms. Your neigbor doing garden work could end up disturbing your bees that the neighbor doesn't notice in her garden. She has more of a right to that garden and working it whenever she wants than you do to introduce bees that will find their way into her garden.


Particularly since the severely allergic person can take measures to a) keep bees from visiting and b) protect their health (carry an epi-pen. wouldn't you?). Severely allergic people should do these things to protect themselves whether I have bees or not.
Why should your neighbors have to adjust their lives so that you can keep bees? See what I mean? And I'm not saying at all that bee keeping should be banned in urban environments at all. I just see some regulation as necessary considering an urban environment is for human use first and foremost, and you as a resident give up some of your "rights" to live in that environment without negatively impacting your fellow residents. While bees may not be overtly dangerous to your neighbors, the possibility exists and that why there's no question that bee keeping will be regulated in my localities.

Furthermore, considering there's pretty much zero recourse for anyone who does end up negatively affected (how could they prove it was your bees?), common sense protections must be in place beforehand.
 

CreamyGoodness

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I think the Constitution has become a "sacred cow." Much like my other "favorite" sacred cow buzz-word "children" (*full body shudder*) we as a nation (private, public, and news media) often use it when we simply want to say "listen up, folks, this is important!"

It's not a Constitutional right. As people have brought up in this thread, upon reading the document with a magnifying glass and consulting with professors and lawyers, one will find no mention of it. What we are really asking is, "dont you think it is absolutely ridiculous to regulate the keeping of bees when it is so beneficial with such little downside? This makes me mad!"

I know I am sounding uppity (yet again) but I really truly think that when we invoke the name of the Constitution or say "for the good of our children" (God I freaking hate that one), or ask what any number of our forefathers or whatever other historical figure would think about a matter we are cheapening our argument. We are crying wolf.

For the record though, the ordinance against keeping bees mentioned was a steaming pile of nonsense. For the good of our children I say we put up some sort of peaceful protest. After all, THAT is our Constitutional right.
 

Pilgarlic

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I'm not asking that anyone adjust their lives so I can keep bees. As I said repeatedly, the measures I'm suggesting (not planting plants that attract things that kill you, not leaving water that attracts things that kill you, and carrying a pen that will provide an antidote against things that kill you) are all things a reasonable person who is susceptible to anaphylactic shock from insect stings would do regardless of whether I keep bees. If her garden is attractive to bees, one would hope that bees will be there regardless of whether I have bees or not, wouldn't one? Will they adjust their lives (take reasonable precautions against being killed) ONLY because I keep bees, when bees naturally occur, wasps naturally occur and ARE aggressive, unlike bees? Put otherwise, if I don't keep bees, will my highly allergic, susceptible to instant death anaphylactic shock susceptible neighbor breath a sigh of relief, and once again lead a full and free life, plant a field of sunflowers and put away the epi-pen? Of course not. The very marginal additional risk imposed by my bees is effectively mitigated by steps that any reasonable person at risk would take anyway. There is no reason my keeping bees should impose any lifestyle changes on that person.
 

Sharkman20

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I agree that bees are beneficial and for the most part, harmless to people. I don't think I've been stung in about 15 years, and that's only because I was messing with a bee hive at the time. I don't mind if anyone were to keep them around me. Now, it's been a while since I've read the constitution, but I don't think I can recall the part about keeping bees. Can anyone verify this?
 

Airborneguy

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Pilgarlic, you definitely make some good points, but I still don't see enough to say that bee keeping should not be subject to some form of regulation. I don't want to assume anything about your mindset, so I have to ask: are you saying that there should be no regulations at all regarding bee keeping in an urban setting?
 

JeepDiver

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In many aspects this country would be a lot better if we all could start thinking about how our actions effect those around us and not require legislation to improve a community.
I live next to you, I am allergic to hops, your beer brewing brings hop particles into my yard. You must quit brewing beer, because your hobby negativly effects me.
 

Pilgarlic

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Airborne: exactly. Non-Africanized honeybees offer, in my opinion, nothing but benefit in the urban or rural environment and should not be regulated. They do not appreciably increase the risk to those allergic. Beekeeping helps to sustain an extremely important pollenating species that is collapsing for inscrutable reasons. Beekeeping has been proven to help to inhibit the expansion of the Africanized bee. In my opinion, they do no harm and offer great benefits. All regulation of them is unfounded and ill-concieved. Now, Africanized bees are certainly another matter. I would support a total ban on keeping africanized bees (some do keep them) and a requirement that a professional exterminator be hired to kill any colonies found on one's property.
 
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