Traverse City Record-Eagle

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December 5, 2012

Bee keeping allowed in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY — City commissioners ignored a last-minute plea to add one more restriction and passed an ordinance to allow bee keeping inside the city limits.

Commissioner Mary Ann Moore suggested the commission amend the bee-keeping ordinance to ban the practice within 100 feet of a home where someone is allergic to honey-bee stings. Moore made the suggestion after speaking with a resident allergic to bee stings and a parent with a child allergic to bees.

"One person told me they almost lost their little son," Moore said. "That person's health is more important than the neighbor's ability to keep bees."

Moore said the 100-foot ban would likely not have any impact because there are probably only two people in the entire city allergic to honey bees. Those people would need to present a letter from a doctor to enable the 100-foot ban.

Commissioners Jody Bergman and Jeanine Easterday, who also sit on the planning commission, said the ordinance is already more restrictive than what other cities allow. Residents must get an annual license, are allowed just two hives, and they must be located at least 25 feet from any neighboring home. The ordinance also requires a six-foot-tall flight barrier if the hive is within 25 feet of a property line.

Flight barriers prevent bees from taking low glide paths leaving the hive and once they go up, they won't come back down except to feed.

Bee enthusiasts told commissioners stings from honey bees are not common because they tend to avoid humans, but they did not object to Moore's suggestion.

When no other commissioner spoke to Moore's suggested 100-foot ban, she dropped it and voted to allow bee keeping.

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