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NJDA Proposal Review

A page dedicated to informing beekeepers about activities around the adoption of proposed regulations that govern beekeeping in New Jersey

page last updated 1/13/18 - 07:00

TAKE ACTION!

WE NEED EVERY PERSON READING THIS TO TAKE ACTION

Beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike can submit comments and raise awareness

The New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) is proposing an update to an existing regulation that drastically impacts the manner in which bees are kept in the state and it will have a profound impact on the landscape of New Jersey.

I want to help

What should I do?
Send NJ DoA Comments 
The most important thing to do!

Send your comments on why you support or go against the proposed guidelines.
Follow the instructions in the TAKE ACTION  section below to do this.

Contact your representatives
Let them know you do not agree

Make sure you local representatives - town council, state repsentatives - know about proposed regulations and that you do not approve of them. Ask them to oppose them and express that the regulations should be withdrawn and rewritten
See the GET THE WORD OUT information in the RESOURCES Section below. 

Tell Others
Make sure everyone knows and helps

Tell anyone you know to contact their representatives and ask that the regulations be withdrawn and rewritten.  Tell them of the impact and ask them to voice a concern. Everyone has a stake in this. Share on social media.   

Be good Beekeepers!
Understand the underlying message

Beekeepers do a great job.  Still, we need to support each other and make sure we are all up to speed on proper beekeeping practice and most of all being good neighbors.

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WHAT YOU WILL FIND HERE

In a 'who, what, where, when' type of format, we have extensively broken down the details of the proposal and impacts for you.  Consider this a resource to get informed, learn what is going on, and find help to get engaged and keep abreast.


The Goldilocks Approach

Some will come here for a full blown insight of what is going on and some will simply want the readers digest version.  To accommodate different styles we have prepared a guide to the level of detail for the approach that suits you.


Simple Approach Path
- Access the proposed regulation and read through them.

- Go to the Taking ACTION section and what should and should not be done

- Review resources we have provided; specifically the templates that might make it easier for you to respond
- TAKE ACTION and follow through


Moderate Approach Path
- Familiarize yourself with the key sections below and look at what interests you.


Full on Approach Recommendation:

- Read it all, go through the content in the order and immerse in the details to be fully informed.


 

Proposed Regulation Documents

This is the full proposed regulations, stripped down, uncluttered, and with a margin area if you want to print the resource and take notes.


Note: We would recommend you read the full version at least once to become acclimated with the full breadth of what is proposed.

SIMPLE REGULATION DOCUMENT IN PDF FORMAT

This is the full document with a navigational table of contents provided so you can find different content and jump around.
- It has an introduction section to give you more tips for getting around in the document, how it is structured, and other helpful aids

FULL DOCUMENT MICROSOFT WORD VERSION

 

Section Navigation
An explanation of the sections you'll find below

About the proposed regulations

- Jump to the section

Consider this a primer on what all the fuss is about and why to be concerned.  These are some of the key impacts summarized.

Taking ACTION

- Jump to the section

There is a right way and a wrong way to respond.  We have provided guidance and insights on how to proceed. 

Resources

- Jump to this section

Resources organized in a way to help you respond.  Sample documents, resolution templates and other resources.

Summary of things proposed

- Jump to this section
Summarizing some of the key problematic areas of the proposed regulations. Cliff notes if you will.


Key things we do not like

- Jump to this section

Some specific details with thoughts on why they are not going to work and possible impacts that you might want to consider.


Media Coverage and Outreach

- Jump to this section

A section to keep you informed of what coverage is out there and where.

There is also a listing of who has been notified and engaged

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Taking ACTION

TIP: Be sure to see the resources section below for aids to help you in taking action


SUBMIT COMMENTS - this is the most imperative thing...

- The most important thing anyone can do is review the proposed regulations and submit comments back to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture on any concerns, suggestions, impacts, and favorable clauses in what is proposed.
- Please refer to the guidance for submitting comments below.


Submitting by Email
Send comments to: proposedrulesPlantIndustry@ag.state.nj.us 

    Attn: Joseph Zoltowski, Director

    Division of Plant Industry

    NJ Department of Agriculture 

    PO Box 330

    Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330


IMPORTANT - Copy the NJBA on your comments and use this email: njbeekee@njbeekeepers.org 


Submitting by Regular (snail) Mail
Send a letter to:
Attn: Joseph Zoltowski, Director

Division of Plant Industry

NJ Department of Agriculture

PO Box 330

Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0330

Note!, we recommend that if you are delivering by regular mail, that you send it in my Monday January 15th.  This will ensure it is to the NJDA by the deadline of 1/19/2018.


Guidance for submitting comments
It is recommended that comments be personal stories from individuals.
- Form letters or reused general comments will NOT help. (No matter how many people send in the same comments/form letter, they are all only counted once.
- A single well supported comment is more influential than a thousand form letters.)
- Therefore, if YOUR comments are about YOU, YOUR beekeeping story and how these regulations will impact YOU, then YOUR COMMENTS WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Recommended Approaches
 - Sometimes it is hard to get started.  As a suggestion, start your letter with something like: “I am writing to voice my strong opposition to the proposed beekeeping regulations.” 
- Include a brief overview of your beekeeping experience and any other relevant personal facts that explain why you are making your comments. (Even if you are new to beekeeping, talk about what made you get into beekeeping, and the positive impact your bees have had on you, your family, and your neighbors.) 
Comments carry more weight if you suggest a less invasive alternative to the proposed regulations and include an explanation of how that alternative might be more effective.
- End your comments with a summary of why you think the proposed regulations will do more harm than good, and also with something to the effect of:
     I would respectfully ask that a new set of regulations be drafted based on the Dept. of Ag’s scientifically-sound guidelines, “The Best Management Practices for Beekeepers in Populated Areas.”
Sign your letter with your full name and full address.  

Presenting in public forums - Be prepared as best as you can
- Knowing your audience and what you are going to say is good practice
- Have your materials and message ready before you engage - things will go smoother and more efficiently
- If you have a short time. simply try to be brief.  Unlike the detail of this page, which is designed/meant to be informative, messages should be kept to small 'sound bites'.


Contact your local Municipal Agricultural Board or equivalent

- It is a good idea to start here and then reach out to your local municipal officials (township committee, etc.)
- Inquire if they know about it and if not provide them with a package.
- Provide them with a basic overview and ask them if they will help you bring it to your municipal elected officials


Contact your local representatives
- Make sure your town/township/city/county officials know of your concerns.
- If applicable, ask them to support a resolution in opposition of supporting the regulations


Contact your State and/or US Government Representatives

- Make sure your state representatives know what the NJDA is doing and ask them to intervene on behalf of the bees.

 

Contact a local Newspaper, Radio, or TV Station
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or call a local radio station expressing your concerns and concerns of the greater impact.  Ask for public support.


Tell your friend - Share on Social Media
- Tell friends and co-workers.  Share concerns on Facebook or other social media.

Do Not Be Mean
- You can attack the proposed regulations and say anything you want about them, but NEVER say anything disrespectful about the people who work at the Dept. of Ag. A good rule of thumb is to focus your comments on the proposed regulations.

- When interacting, be nice.  It will not reflect well if anyone detracts from the main concern by negative interactions.  The beekeepers of NJ have manintained a long standing partnership with the NJDA and we will get past this.
- Stay with the facts, and do not sensationalize.
- Work toward the ultimate goal, a workable solution. 


Do Not Employ Form Letters
- A direct individual response, no matter how small or concise, will provide the best result.  Short effective responses often have the most impact.

- Form letters, like junk mail, are rarely effective and by practice every duplicate message is likely to be discarded and not count.


Do Not Panic
- This will be a journey and it will take time for the process to run its course.  There are no immediate impending impacts to beekeepers and there is time to come back together and sort this out.
- There is no need to sell off hives or take any drastic actions.  There are many beekeepers that will support a proper resolution and dire measures are not required.



Looking up state and local representatives

- Scroll down the page and see the section GET THE WORD OUT. We have amassed links and provided instructions how to find and make contact with local and state representatives and other stakeholders.

Resources

Example Beekeeping Resolution

A resolution example that was employed in a local town.  Intended to serve as a blueprint for creating a response for your hometown.
Link (Right click to download) - Microsoft Word Format

Example Opposition Cover Letter
An example opposition letter provided to the session with the Hopewell Township Committee presentation
Link (Right click to download) - Microsoft Word Format

Example Response Letter
An example response letter for refernce to one way to do it.  This was directed to Secretary Fisher.
- Please heed the instructions and do not use this wording for your personal response.
Link (Right click to download) - Microsoft Word Format

Example Summary Response Statement to provide to towns
An example summary response that can be given in a package to an Agriculture Board and/or Municipality
Link (Right click to download) - Microsoft Word Format

Example Talking Points Document
An example of talking points to consider when formulating a response for any purposes.
Link (Right click to download) - Microsoft Word Format

Town Talking Point Script Template
A template used to present the topic to a town committee or organization.

Link (Right click to download) - Microsoft Word Format

New Jersey Senate and Assembly Representatives - resources to identify and make contact

NJ Legislature District Map - http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/districtnumbers.asp
NJ Districts and Contacts by Municipality - http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/districts/municipalities.asp
Alphabetical Listing of representatives - http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/members/abcroster.asp


County and Municipal Websites
http://www.state.nj.us/nj/gov/county/localgov.html


State of NJ Governor - Chris Christie
http://nj.gov/governor/contact/


Call or write Lieutenant Governor - Kim Guadagno
http://nj.gov/governor/admin/lt/

(She signed the bill that gave the State the right to handle beekeeping issues, and removed it from the hands of each municipality)


Secretary of Agriculture - Douglas H. Fisher

Phone: 609-292-3976

Fax: 609-292-3978

douglas.fisher@ag.state.nj.us


President NJ State Board of Agriculture - Santo John Maccherone 

Phone: 856-207-4542 


Full Listing of State and County Agriculture Board Representatives

This list may be outdated given recent elections but it is a comprehensive resource and a good place to start
- It has the listing of state organizations
- It also includes the principles of every county agricultural board/district
http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/pdf/dirbook.pdf


NJ State Board of Agriculture Beekeeping Industry Representative - Angelo Trapani
http://www.nj.gov/agriculture/about/sba/

New Jersey Beekeepers Association President - Janet A. Katz

president@njbeekeepers.org

PRINCE GEORGES COUNTY, MD 

- A very similar suggestion in Prince Georges County, Maryland concerning the management of bees in populated areas.
- We suggest you read the newsletter embedded on the page for a primer on what is happening.  It is scary how closely what they have going on resembles what we are seeing.  Is it possible that our Ag board consulted with them or vice versa?  Some of the considerations look to similar to be coincidental.
http://bumbabees.com/zoning.html

Some of our beekeepers have shared their comments with the board members.  If you are a NWNJBA member would like to see some samples of comments provided by our beekeepers Email the NWNJBA secretary Eda Schmalz and she will address your request. 

About the Proposed Regulations

The proposed regulations will impact all hobbyist and small scale beekeepers and beekeepers are not in support.  Below is a summary of the main objections in the proposal.


Imposes Restrictive Limits on Number of Hives Allowed
- Setting restrictive limits on the number of colonies you can keep or outright banning the ability to keep bees.

Requires Mandatory Notification Process

- Hobbyist beekeepers will be required to notify nearby neighbors every year that bees are kept on the property.  
- There is not an abundance of neighbor problems or medical emergency incidents to warrant this.

Requires a Complicated Waiver Process
- In a large number of cases beekeepers will require submission, and a hopeful approval, of a waiver to keep bees on their property.  This is especially true if one wishes to keep more bees than the paltry 2 hives allowed.

Overbearing Management Practices
- Require overbearing management practices that are too stringent, scientifically unfounded, and at a significant cost and effort to local beekeepers.


Lack of Practical Application and Enforcement
- There is little expectation that the state and municipal organizations are equipped to handle and enforce the practices that are being proposed.  They are not staffed or funded for such oversight and the implication is that this will not result in a workable solution.


Regulating to Solve a "Non Problem"
- While conflicts are present at a very minimal level, this proposed regulation in no way reflects the amount of oversight required to address infrequent problems.  The notifications, overburdening management practices, and restriction of hives required is in no way commensurate to the scarce problems and encounters that are present anywhere in the US let alone NJ.

The proposal in its current form will have significant impact to the landscape of New Jersey and the practice of keeping bees.  It is forecast to have the following impacts...

Urban bee populations drastically reduced
- Small property urban areas will experience a significant reduction of honey bee pollinators.
- Properties with less than 1/4 acre in many cases will be banned from having bees.  Even New York City is not this restrictive.

Beekeepers will cease keeping bees or forgeo starting
- Many beekeepers will simply quit keeping bees rather than attempt to comply
- Prospective beekeepers will simply not start when faced with such daunting requirements.
- Your neighborhood beekeepers, the ones that pollinate your garden for free, will not be able to have as many hives so you won't have as many bees. 

Less local honey and beekeeper services
- There will be fewer beekeepers producing local honey and less raw local honey available to New Jersey residents. 
- Beekeepers will not collect swarming bees, They'll be restricted from hosting them with hive limitations

Local Fauna and Gardens will Suffer
- There is already a large reduction in bees present in local gardens.
- An unseen, untold impact will occur to local flowers, local gardens, nearby agricultural crops, and the habitat of NJ.

Unwarranted, Unfunded Cost Increases and Effort Outlay for Beekeepers and Taxpayers
- To comply there will be a significant monetary outlay for beekeepers in both cost to manage bees and effort to comply.
- In addition the proposed registration and waiver processes will require countless hours to administer and enforce and there is no suggestion of how it is going to be funded.

Ecological Change and Expansion of Diseases
- Less honeybees will result in problem insects such as yellow jacket wasps to proliferate when they fill in the ecological niche vacated by the gentle honey bees.
- Swarms allowed to go wild will mean more unmanaged bees and population loads in NJ. This increases the prevalence of a parasite to bees the varroa mite. Varroa mite parasites introduce disease pressures on honeybee colonies and with more unmanaged bees the virus transmissions between colonies could expand. Local beekeepers manage for varroa.

Beekeepers are Preparing and Submitting Comments

Beekeepers across the state have been preparing and submitting their comments to the NJDA.
- To aid in this, the NWNJBA has created some versions that are far easier to read and review (see below)


Political Information - Calls to Action
Concerned beekeepers and citizens have been contacting local and municipal representatives to make them aware of impacts and concerns. (see below for a list of known calls to action)

Beekeeper Collaboration
Beekeeping organizations, led by the NJ Beekeepers Association (NJBA), have been communicating to members to ensure they are aware, informed, and kept abreast of activities as the deadline for comment nears.  In addition the NJBA has held some sessions to seek input from members.

Beekeepers and Concerned Citizens are Reaching out to the Media
Local and National Television, Radio, and Internet coverage has been taking place since the proposed regulations have been provided for comment. (see below for some links to coverage)

Submit Comments
Download the proposed regulations and comment. (how? See taking ACTION below)
- Comments can come in any form; meaning you can comment broadly about whether you do or do not agree with what has been proposed or you can go through the proposed regulation and make comments in full detail.  Simple to complex comments or anything in between works - just as long as you comment.


Reach Out to Local Municipal Officials

Raise awareness to your local officials and let them know what is going on.  Educate them on the impacts and ask them to weigh in.   We encourage you to reach out to your local Agriculture / Extension representatives in addition to local municipal committees/officials.


Reach out to State Representatives.

Let your state representatives know about the proposal from the NJDA and its impacts.  Tell them you do not support it and anticipate that they will not either.


Tell Others
This is not simply a beekeeper issue.  Honey bees are one of the groups of pollinators that pollinate one out of every three bites of food we eat.  Everyone will be impacted. Less local honey, less bees for our gardens, vast environmental impacts.  Tell your neighbors.   

It is likely that some may not have any background, are new to this, and would wonder what were the overall activities that proceeded the release of the proposed regulations.  There is an extensive background that may be of interest.  Here is a summary of key milestones.


A Working Model

There was a working model in the state of NJ.  The beekeeping legislation enacted had the high level oversight.  It was supplemented and supported for a lengthy period of time via a document created by the NJDA called "Best Management Practices for Beekeepers in Populated Areas".


This document along with reviews by the NJ State Apiarist and representatives of the NJBA governed over the infrequent beekeeping complaints that surfaced in the state. 


An Unfortunate Incident
Some sporadic incidents occurred with the growing popularity of beekeeping but things were under not out of control until one marquee incident caused a pocket of concern.  Some residents of the town of Peapack-Gladstone had a rather difficult time with a beekeeper and drove awareness of lack of leverage for neighbors to resolve their issues.


Working on a solution
The NJDA and NJBA partnered to draft some more specific guidelines and worked to pass legislation that allowed the NJDA to set statewide guidelines for the oversight of beekeeping practices in NJ.  This was done on the premise that practices would be consistent, fair, and would include input from both the public and beekeeper stakeholders.


Where did it go wrong?
The NJDA did host meetings with concerned parties but there was some dissension on how things were proceeding. Concerned resident stakeholders of Peapack-Gladstone had influence over the proceedings and one might say the outcome resulted to much influence.  The regulations went from a collaborative cooperation on fair practices to a heavily regulated approach with little input from what was established at the onset, required stakeholders (namely the NJBA, League of Municipalities, and representatives from a subject matter organization - the Mid Atlantic Apiculture Research and Extension Consortium (MAAREC)


A false start and warning of what was to come...

The NJDA released a draft proposal for comment to the state in July 2017 (July 27th, 2017).  Beekeepers across the state were shocked and dismayed at what was proposed and numerous comments directly to the department were sent voicing vehement opposition.  For reasons undisclosed, but perhaps due to backlash, the NJDA withdrew the draft.  The draft included multiple additions above and beyond what was being discussed including a newly proposed notification process which required for registration and a waiver process for those who would systematically fall out of compliance given the sweeping changes.


The NJBA and other organizations provided feedback against the draft but little collaboration was to follow.


Re-Release November 20th, 2017
The proposal was re-released in November of 2017 in very similar form to the July proposal but with additional stipulations and expansion of rules, definitions, and amendments.  Again, the feedback from the beekeeping community was expressed but the document stands as submitted for comment.


Searching for a more pragmatic solution
The NJBA and its members are driving to expose the flaws in the draft proposal and reopen discussions about developing a practical set of best practices that will not be a burden to beekeepers, will continue to allow a vibrant place for hobbyist beekeeping, and keep vital honey bees responsibly managed throughout the state of NJ.

Questions, comments, and making contact to northwest NJ Beekeepers Association board members can be accomplished through the contact information page available here at the website.  General comments can be sent to nwnjba@live.com.  Please ensure to identify yourself if writing in.

Summarization of Key Items Proposed

Registration is mandatory for all beekeepers going forward.  
- Beekeepers, likely in most cases, will have to be compliant with the proposed regulations upon submission and correct any non-compliance.  
- They will have to prove that they have provided written notice / notified their neighbors.
- They will have to affirm there are no citizen complaints against them.


Affirmation of Neighbor notification
- All beekeepers will have to provide some proof that they have formally notified ajacent neighbors that they will be keeping bees.  In some cases, depending on stipulations in the regulations you will have to go farther and notify those who are 200 feet or closer to your property lines.


Disclosure of previous citizen complaints
- Proper registration submission requires you disclose any past or current citizen complaints involving beekeeping. 

No outstanding citizen complaints
- A beekeeper must vouch that they do not have any outstanding, unresolved complaints, regarding beekeeping against them at time of application.


Submission of the 'Box Brand' insignia that is required to uniquely identify hive ownership

- Beekeepers must upload a form of proof that they have 'branded' their hives.  It alludes to some sort of unique insignia, marking, or initials.  This of course implies that all equipment is going to be properly marked.

This is a summary and does not reflect all of the requirements.  Please review the proposed regulations for more insights.

Water
Beekeepers will have to ensure that a water source never runs dry and that it has provided at least one gallon a day per hive throughout the year.


Flyway Barrier
Except for a few specific conditions, all beekeepers will have to employ some form of flyway barrier in front of their hives.  It has to be placed in front of all hives and extend 10 foot further past the last two hives.


Record Keepeeping
All beekeepers will have to maintain beekeeping management records for at least 6 years back and provide them to officials on demand as requested.


Mandatory Training
Beekeepers will have to take initial training and continue to take and document trianing records per the regulation guidelines; to be furnished on demand as requested.

Queens
Queens must be selected for gentleness and non-swarming characteristics.  There is an obligation to requeen if hives are defensive and/or they exhibit unusual disposition for swarming.

This is a summary and does not reflect all of the requirements. Please review the proposed regulations for more insights.


Waivers
Waivers are required for anyone that has too many hives should the regulations be adopted or if one desires more hives than the regulation allows.


Notifications
Waiver submissions require notification of adjacent neighbors and neighbors that are within 200 feet of property lines.

Waiver Submissions
Submitted waivers must include several pieces of data: Number of hives, size of property, block and lot, zoning district information, a certificate indicating hives are disease free, stipulations to the purpose of the hives (business reason or hobby) amongst other things, 

This is a summary and does not reflect all of the requirements. Please review the proposed regulations for more insights.

This is a list of requirements that are listed throughout the regulations.  it is not all encompassing but represents a reasonable sample of what is required to maintain compliance for keeping bees*:


1. Mandatory Annual Registration
- Include details that were not required prior

2. Training Records for 6 years

3. 1 Gallon of water per hive maintained every day - never runs dry
4. Flyway Barriers
5. Annual Neighbor Notification
6. On registration one must stipulate a backup beekeeper to be called in your abscence.

7. Maintain Branding (Marking in some way) Hives
8 Inform on Zoning - If where you reside is permitted use
9 Maintain Hive Management records

- Include documentation that hives have been managed no less than three times


Media Coverage & Outreach

NJ Beekeepers Abuzz over Proposed Regulations

CBS NEWS New York Channel 2 -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Lw7UHaqaI&app=desktop


Local beekeepers push back against proposed regulations

NJTV News

https://www.njtvonline.org/news/video/local-beekeepers-push-back-proposed-regulations/#.WjRbskp0UC8.facebook



Atlantic City Press - We understand an article is pending (Michele Post author)

Bad buzz on new beekeeping regulations

Star Ledger - http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2018/01/post_416.html


Buzz over state beekeeper laws beganin Peapack-Gladstone
The Bernardsville News - http://www.newjerseyhills.com/bernardsville_news/news/buzz-over-state-beekeeper-laws-began-in-peapack-gladstone/article_a6eec42c-08a0-5296-817c-f336b8e95d0f.html (Requires Subscription)


LETTER: Act now to help save New Jersey’s honeybees

Daily Record - http://www.dailyrecord.com/story/opinion/letters/2018/01/04/letter-act-now-help-save-new-jerseys-honeybees/109128162/


LETTER: 'Bee Man' urges opposition to proposed bee rules

NJ.com (Hunterdon Democrat) - http://www.nj.com/hunterdon-county-democrat/index.ssf/2018/01/bee_man_urges_opposition_to_proposed_bee_rules_fee.html

Herb Contway - 7th District state assemblyman
Chris DeVito - 9th District

Rondald Dancer - 12th District


Bergenfield - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation

Dumont - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
East Amwell Township - Review with the Agricultural Board + Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
Egg Harbor - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
Harrington Park - Report, but not confirmed, resolution passed
Hopewell Township - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
Hunterdon County (Freeholders) - Resolution passed
Lebanon Township - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
Oradell - Pending (may be done, do not know outcome)

Readington - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation

Ridgewood - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation

Rutherford - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
South Hackensack - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation
Waldwick - Resolution passed opposing the NJDA Regulation


Note, these accounts are as accurate as we can be.  Accounts are being passed to us by our beekeeping friends. We are keeping a list so local beekeepers can know if anything was done in their town.


As an aside, the January 19th deadline is only for comments.  Beekeepers can share their concerns with the municipalities of New Jersey after January 19th, it will still be impactful for them to weigh in.


If you know of any that we do not have on our list and want tell us, write nwnjba@live.com to let us know.

EnviroPolitics Blog - Beekeepers buzz town officials about residential hives
http://enviropoliticsblog.blogspot.com/2017/11/beekeepers-buzz-town-officials-about.html#.WlGos0xFyHt


NorthJersey.com - Beekeepers protest proposed state regulations impacting backyard hives
https://www.northjersey.com/story/news/state/2018/01/09/beekeepers-protest-proposed-state-regulations-impacting-backyard-hives/1014222001/


Residents Express Concerns Over Potential State Beekeeping Regulations Regarding Property Size and More

TAPinto the Breeze - https://www.tapinto.net/towns/bridgewater-slash-raritan/articles/residents-express-concerns-over-potential-state-b





Some of the Key things we do not like!

No casis for the quantity allowed
- There does not seem to be a basis for how many hives are allowed on properties of different sizes.

- Even populous cities have more generous allocations.


Lack of recognition of the diversity of the state

- It seems as if a least allowable principle was applied for the entire state.  Land and population density/design varies widely in NJ.  As an example, a 1/2 acre plot in Newark bears little resemblance to a 1/2 acre lot in the Pine Barrens.  

- The regulations are written as one size fits all and appear to require the waiver process to make distinctions for differences.

- There needs to be reasonable classifications that make the guidelines simple to apply and enforce.  It is not reasonable to employ a 'least common denominator approach'. 


Agriculture vs. Non-Agriculture Distinction
- The proposed regulations take a viewpoint that agricultural land use is a factor for keeping bees.  This is not a current principle for hobbyists and is not relevant.  Areas that are non-agricultural have strict limitation or bans for the number of bees kept.

- Other pursuits, like keeping chickens for example, do not employ an agricultural use governance design so why require it to keep bees?


Limiting bees because of perceived 'newbie' ineptness

- It seems the overarching focus is keeping new beekeepers out of trouble.  A worthy problem to solve, but limiting all beekeepers, new and experienced equally applies a standard that is not reasonable.
- Most municipalities have dozens of beekeepers who successfully maintain multiple beehives and no one is the wiser.  These are hives in prominent locations and restricting the number of colonies based on property size does not take into consideration the various factors that determine what will and will not be successful.


Land Use Limitations and Unintended Consequences
- Many hives will be impacted (possibly eliminated) if new setbacks and clauses are enforced.  Hives near schools, churches, playgrounds, and sports fields have a proposed setback and use qualification requirements, This seems innocuous but it is likely to have a reasonable impact in many communities where hives are already (peacefully) in place with no difficulties.  There is no rampant problem that needs to be solved with these types of neighboring uses.

Provision to Supply a Stipulated Quantity of Water and that doing so negates conflict

- The proposal indicates that a gallon of water is required daily for each hive.  This is not scientifically supported or factually correct.  
- Bees are not domesticated.  Providing water is simply not a magic activity that will keep bees from flying to undesirable water sources like neighbor's swimming pools.

- We agree, as a good practice, beekeepers should supply water; That is what it should say to be reasonable.  As to how much and where it should be located, there are better resources that give guidance and beekeepers should be consulted to agree upon the parameters.
- It should not infer that bees can be tamed to go to a provided water source and lead neighbors to think that they should not anticipate bees visiting their water features.
- There should be recognition that providing water is not required if a water feature (pond, stream, etc.) is located near an apiary.


Flyway Barriers

- There is a provision that apiaries must have a flyway barrier in most cases.  This is an overreach of the concept.  
[Background] Flyway barriers, or simply thought of as a fence around bees, direct bees flying away from a hive to fly at a higher level off the ground.  They are effective tools to keep bee flight paths from interacting with objects nearby.
- This is reasonably employed when there is something to protect but the regulations makes it applicable in situations where it is not accomplishing anything.
- This means a unnecessary barrier must be built for many beekeepers at their own effort, expense, and requirement to be in compliance.


Mandatory Training and Documentation Requirements

- Not as egregious as some of the other items called out here, the proposal indicates that initial and continued education is required.  What is at issue is the ambiguity of execution.
- The standard of what training is required is not spelled out so a beekeeper can know if they meet the standard if called into question.

- It is unclear if the current state of beekeeping training across the state would meet the demand for every beekeeper that requires training.  As it is beekeepers find it difficult to get into beginner courses because the demand outstrips the courses available.  What would be helpful in recognition of these facts is more collaboration with the NJDA and sources to arrange for more training be offered in the state?

- There is an insinuation that mentors can be sought to aid in resolving the requirement.  This too would be overreaching as it is highly likely that there are not enough mentors willing or available to fulfill the need.
- Beekeepers, who are on the whole likely to be compliant, will be required to maintain training and submit verification of compliance on demand if an occasion arises.  Most will never be challenged, yet they will have to maintain vigilant of records in case they are ever called into question. There has to be a better way to go about this or negate the need altogether. 


Branding
- The proposal calls for all hives to be 'branded'.  This equates to physical branding or marking.  It has reasonable application in some cases but in most cases it is redundant and not necessary.
- Where hives are on a property not owned or away from the beekeeper's residence, is it a practical suggestion?  If the hives are on the property of the registered owner then there should be no confusion as to who owns them.

- Hives sold and other circumstances have real world implications of making this practice ineffective.
- An alternate suggestion that is far less burdensome might be a single sign posted to identify the ownership of a collection of hives.

Notifications

- How much is it going to cost in time, money, effort, and frustration for beekeepers to notify neighbors as required?  
- If neighbors are friendly, it is a unnecessary cost and time expenditure required for the beekeeper.  
- If neighbors are not so friendly, beekeepers know in many cases not to push the issue and mandatory notifications are going to exacerbate problems.  
- If setbacks are established and prudent - deemed safe practices are defined and followed - why is there a requirement to notify neighbors?  Safe also includes conditions that do not put truly allergic people at risk.
- What other things require notifications of neighbors when they are conducted within normal parameters?  Would it not be assumed that beekeepers would keep bees in a safe manner and the right setback parameters have safety by design?

Waivers

- It is anticipated that a large number of beekeepers have more hives than will be permitted. The number of beekeepers who immediately find themselves non-compliant will not be trivial.  Keeping in mind that there are limited conflicts with established beekeepers, does this suggest that the new regulations are overly restrictive?

- As with registration, notifications of waivers must be made to all who have property within 200 feet of the property line.  This for many can be even more burdensome than the notification for standard registration.
- The governing authority designated to rule on this is the local municipality; if they choose to adopt the regulation.  The NJDA is the subject matter expert and this design has the municipality making the ruling.  This is counter to the charter that the NJDA was supposed to establish reasonable standards that could be adhered to.  How likely is it that municipalities will welcome the requirement to preside over waivers and that they will have anyone who has subject matter expertise to properly decide?  The likely outcome if this comes to fruition is the beekeeper will have the burden to be the subject matter expert.
- No less than 8 stipulations have to be prepared and reviewed and some of the stipulations quite frankly are not germane to the review process.  For example - beekeepers have to provide prior history of complaints against them. Suppose a neighbor has a problem with yellow jackets at their pool and insists erroneously a threat from the hives next door.  This simply is immaterial but it qualifies for disclosure and enters into something that can be used against the beekeeper.  On the other hand, if a police matter was investigated, that would qualify for disclosure.  Who is going to spell out the rules?
- There are a large number of other issues that can be raised but the real solution is to make the regulations practical and not require reviews to qualify any gray areas.

We love pollinators and never want to see unwarranted limitations
- Beekeepers love their bees.  How is anything that is going to have a large scale effect on limiting bees going to be good - especially for agriculture?


Fewer Bees - Fewer Options = Less Beekeepers and More out of Pocket Costs
- Parasite Varroa Mites have had a profound impact on beekeeping.  These parasites in recent years have very much challenged beekeepers and it is not uncommon that hives succumb even if proactive varroa mite practices were employed.
- Losing two hives, when you only have two, is a high probability.
- For this reason many beekeepers keep more hives to increase their chances for recovery from loss.
- Beekeepers with multiple hives can mostly be assured to have hives that survive; and that can be employed in the replacement of lost colonies.
- Beekeepers restricted to two hives face three likely scenarios:
1. Both hives survive and they carry on
2. One of the two hives survives and they use the remaining hive to recover (while losing productivity of the hive because of the impact) or they keep one hive and hopefully keep it viable.
3. Both hives die and they have to pay to replace them and restart or they quit - both bad outcomes

Some beekeepers keep many bees for various reasons and limitations of hives kept are going to thwart these uses  


:: Queen Production

One aspect of keeping bees for some beekeepers is the raising of queens.  How does the limitation of two hives for much of the state impact this management practice?
- Will those raising queens always require a waiver if they happen to have a smaller property?

:: Sideliners

(small scale commercial beekeepers) do it for honey and resources to make products from beehives.  


:: Educators 

- Beekeeping educators need to have a lot of bees to use for learning the craft.  They might employ different hive types or management practices for larger scale beekeeping practices.
- Certain management practices require several hives in order to implement.  

Water Supplies
The stipulations of water required for a colony are necessary but the manner proposed is not well presented.  The amount of water required is erroneous, not supportable, and not scientifically sound.  Water is a good idea, on that we agree, but how it is being mandated requires further evaluation and a more workable approach.


Swarm Mitigation Techniques

The insinuation that replacing honey bee queens as a tactic to control swarming is not plausible as suggested.  In addition the aspect of maintaining a nucleus on the property for swarm management (so swarms have a place to go) is patently wrong.  The chances of an active swarm choosing a nucleus (a smaller size hive box that is half the size of a normal box) sized hive staged in the apiary is simply not a viable idea.  Management practices and education help beekeepers prevent swarms but it should be kept in mind that swarming is a sign of healthy well provisioned colonies.  Sometimes even the best practices cannot thwart swarming impulses and this is a good thing.  There does, after all, have to be bees in the feral world too.

Flyway Barrier

Flyway barriers are a good tool in certain circumstances but only need be employed when it will make a difference.  Building a fence, one that will not be a burden to maintain, is not a simple task and requiring doing so should be warranted. Installation of materials, whether it be bushes or fence posts is time consuming, costly, and in some locations may actually require a permit.  If it make sense, and there are times it does, it is a useful tool.  Define the circumstances where it is prudent, have the beekeepers agree, and amend the stipulation where it works for everyone.

These were presented as some representative samples.  There are several more examples in the proposed regulation and we are sure that beekeepers will share their thoughts when submitting comments.

What if beekeepers who have a lot of hives are forced to reduce to two to comply?
- What are beekeepers supposed to do with the excess bees and equipment they have?

- Is it fair to assume that once passed they will have no recourse but to spread their bees to other locations?  

- Will that not result in proliferation of colonies - sitting away from hobbyist beekeeper direct oversight throughout NJ?  

- Is this well thought through or are there better solutions?
- The time given to remediate, it seems impractical.  On one hand, it infers that dealing with problems is complicated and on the other hand it gives a short window for beekeepers to comply.


What about swarms?
- Swarming is a natural reproductive process of honey bees.  It is inevitable.  With restrictions, what incentive will there be for typical beekeepers to capture swarms?
- Will there be a shift in the number of unmanaged colonies in the wild from lack of swarms being taken in and properly managed for disease?
- What about the greater exposurer to the general public of swarms?

- What of the likely outcome that beekeepers will not want to collect swarms because they won't be able to keep them.
- Where will more uncollected swarms end up - buildings, undesired places?
- Will a greater number of swarms result in a shift of bee stock in NJ to feral, unmanaged for disease, colonies?


What is the uncounted monetary impact?
- What will be the impact to beekeeping suppliers who rely upon the business of New Jersey beekeepers.  What will be the impact in sales due to the perceived downturn of hives kept to be kept in the state?
- What about the added costs to municipalities who bear the burden of oversight and enforcement?


What of the new conflict resolutions that will result?
- Isn't it probable that notifying neighbors will result in new exposure to the keeping of bees drive unnecessary conflict in situations where there is no real risk?  Could this lead to unwarranted censure and uninformed concerns around keeping bees?

NWNJBA - Your Hunterdon and Warren Representatives

District 15 - (Hunterdon and Mercer)

East Amwell
Ewing
Hopewell Borough
Hopewell Township
Lambertville
Lawrence
Pennington
Trenton
West Amwell
West Windsor  


Sen. Shirley Turner
(609) 323-7239


Assemblyman Reed Gusciora
(609) 571-9638


Assemblywomen Elizabeth Muoio
(609) 571-9638

District 16 - (Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex and Somerset)

Branchburg
Delaware
Flemington
Hillsborough
Manville
Millstone
Montgomery
Princeton
Raritan Township
Readington
Rocky Hill
Somerville
South Brunswick
Stockton


Sen. Chris "Kip" Bateman

(908) 526-3600


Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli
(908) 450-7064


Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker
(609) 454-3147

District 23 - (Hunterdon, Somerset and Warren)

Alexandria
Alpha
Bedminster
Bethlehem
Bloomsbury
Bound Brook
Bridgewater
Califon
Clinton
Clinton Township
Franklin Township (Hunterdon)
Franklin Township (Warren)
Frenchtown
Glen Gardner
Greenwich (Warren)
Hackettstown
Hampton (Hunterdon)
Harmony
High Bridge
Holland
Kingwood
Lebanon Borough
Lebanon Township
Lopatcong
Mansfield Township (Warren)
Milford
Peapack-Gladstone
Phillipsburg
Pohatcong
Raritan (Somerset)
South Bound Brook
Tewksbury
Union Township (Hunterdon)
Washington Borough (Warren)
Washington Township (Warren)


Sen. Michael Doherty
(908) 835-0552


Assemblyman John DiMaio
(908) 722-1365


Assemblyman Erik Paterson
(908) 238-0251

Feedback and outreach:
If you have information to share, would like to provide comments, or have a correction to suggest, please contact us via email at nwnjba@live.com.  Please let us know in the subject that you are writing in reference to the NJDA topic.


Giving Thanks

We want to acknowledge and say thank you to those who helped contribute to this effort.  


Disclaimer:
We have done our best to represent the information collected and provided to us while interpreting ideas and concepts related to the topic. We have strived to not misrepresent any of the information in what is a complex subject.  Consider that we have presented and given a best effort under the premise of organizing information for feedback and facilitating a positive outcome.