Could the honeybee become Maplewood’s new chicken?
At the last Township Committee meeting, a resident told the committee that her neighbor’s beehive was ruining her family’s summer.
“We can’t use our backyard anymore because our neighbor has a beehive in his front yard,” said Marci White, who lives on Wyoming Avenue. The hive is around the corner on New England Road.
According to Health Director Robert Roe, the township is aware of the hive and is monitoring it. “There is no town ordinance that prohibits raising bees,” said Roe. However, he said that his biggest concern is that the hive – a tall, white structure surrounded by a bed of colorful flowers – might be an attraction for young children.
“It is a bit of a nuisance,” said Roe, who said he has received around two or three complaints from neighbors.
White said at the meeting that some of her neighbors didn’t seem concerned about the hive, and were looking forward to the possibilty of free honey. “One of our neighbors calls it the ‘Leaning Tower of Bee-sa,’” she said.
While beekeeping is legal in New Jersey, the State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture guidelines suggest that colonies be kept no closer than 15 feet from adjacent properties and at least 25 feet from sidewalks. If a hive is within ten feet of a neighbor’s property, the state recommends that it be surrounded by a 6-foot high hedge or fence. (Maplewood prohibits fences that high in front yards.)
Roe said he had not measured the distance between the hive and property lines or sidewalks but said, “It’s close.”
Roe also pointed out that honeybees are considered beneficial, but that some people are allergic to bee stings. He said that although there are other beehives in Maplewood, the issue had never come up before because they are located in back, not front, yards.
“We will discuss if we need to regulate beehives in town in the future,” said Roe.