Wednesday, August 1, 2012
In response to concerns over a mounting problem with "colony-collapse disorder" of honeybee hives nationwide, Florida has approved legislation that prohibits counties, municipalites & planned communities from banning backyard beekeeping in residentially zoned areas.
Signed into law July 1, 2012, HB1197 establishes the Florida Department of Agriculture as sole power to regulate beehives & prohibits counties & municipalities from enacting beekeeping laws.
The bill primarily protects hobbyists with a few hives in residential areas. The argument was successfully made that the Dept. of Agriculture, which already regulates & inspects commercial beekeeping operations, is better able to make sound decisions through knowledge than municipalities that know little about beekeeping.
With many farmers having their bees die off or simply fly off, they testified to the need of hobbyists with a few hives in residential areas to help fill the void from large losses by commercial keepers.
Having managed honeybees out in the environment competing for the same forage & food helps discourage Africanized bees from moving into the area. European Honeybees, the only bee allowed through the new law, are docile and non-aggressive. Africanized bees, on the other hand, are extremely aggressive & have moved into central & south Florida in the last few years.
County Commisioners, Dept. of Agriculture agents & County Extension agents are working together to come up with new guidelines to make sure the hives are maintained properly & proper barriers are required to protect the public, especially those that are allergic.
Hobbyists welcome the regulation by the Dept. of Agriculture, saying that hives should be inspected for proper care.
While the officials hash out the details, we can all plant more bee-friendly trees, flowers & grasses in our gardens to help attrack the bees to our yards.
Some common bee-friendly plants are:
Trees: Hollies, Magnolia, Dogwoods, Catalpa, Redbuds, Avocado, Almond & fruit trees (especially citrus)
Vines: Coral , Honeysuckle
Perennials: Rugosa roses, Hyssop, Milkweed, Mallow, Butterfly bush, California Poppy, Cosmos, Purple Coneflower, Spiderwort, Russian Sage, Sunflowers
Herbs: Oregano, Rosemary, Lavender, Mustard