Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Free Urban Beekeeping Seminar for DC Residents

small version of flyer announcing seminarIf you are a resident of the District of Columbia, the Department of Parks and Recreation has a small number of seats available for a free seminar on urban beekeeping! You can click on the picture at left to download the flyer.
The seminar is complimentary, though you have to register in advance and are advised to purchase the accompanying text (Avitabile & Sammataro's The Beekeeper's Handbook, Third Edition)
Several member of the DC Beekeeping community have agreed to participate at each class, and to share their experiences getting started and going forward as a beekeeper in the Nation's Capital. No two beekeepers have the same story, and participants will discover their own adventures along the way, too.
Out hope is that this class will expand the group of volunteers supporting DC Parks and Rec's 5 new apiaries in 2010. This very short class can only hope to provide an overview, which participants can build on by learning-by-doing in one of the city's own apiaries.
For those of you who are already registered with a short course at a suburban bee club: trust me, you have also done the right thing, especially if your plan is to set up your own personal beehives in 2010. That is how I learned, after all!


Mike Licht said...

Does DC still forbid beekeeping within 500 feet of a residence? The press release for these presentations does not mention it.

Phang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phang said...

Here is the DC law you mention:

District of Columbia Municipal Regulations
Title 24 - Public Space and Safety (December 1996)
904 BEES
904.1 No bees or hives of bees shall be permitted to be kept when there are human habitations within a radius of five hundred feet (500ft.).
904.2 The provisions of this section shall not apply to bees confined in hives, or to bees kept on property that is enclosed so that the bees cannot stray from the property.
SOURCE: Article 16, §14 of the Police Regulations (May 1981)

Currently, DC has interpreted these conditions as problematic -- the first section says no hives, the second says hives are ok. I would agree with anyone who was concerned that the interpretation of this law could go either way, especially in the case of a public complaint.

Most jurisdictions that ban beekeeping just say "beekeeping is not allowed within city limits:" they don't create fanciful or impossible requirements. There must be a very odd story behind this law.

By the way, the second part of 904.2 is actually impossible, and an attempt to comply with its terms would violate DC zoning laws.

At this point in time, I have made inquiries of both DCRA and Animal Control, and have reached out directly to the Office of the Mayor and the City Council. All consider the law to be flawed at best. One DC apiary was the subject of a complaint to the Health Department last year (the agency which is charged with enforcing Public Health and Safety laws) and, after visiting the site did not assess a fine or order that the beehives be removed.

This means that beekeeping in DC is in an ambiguous, unprotected legal environment. In an era where local foods, including those from community gardens, and greener lifestyles are growing in popularity and political importance, many of us would like to move the ball into stronger, clearer language that provides real-world guidelines for responsible urban apiculture. We have begun working with elected officials to learn how to accomplish this goal.

I hope this helps!

bottledandsowed said...

This is fantastic. We've been wanting to keep hives for years, but thought it was illegal. I'm glad to hear there are others out there keeping hives successfully. Are there any beekeepers in DC willing to help out someone new to hives?

Phang said...

Any DC people interested in becoming beekeepers or supporting beekeepers are encouraged to check out www.dcbeekeepers.org and to become a registered user. Every membership requires approval, but it is a gateway to getting experience working beside new and established beekeepers, and a pathway to getting your own hive(s) at some point.

Beekeeper said...

As far as I know there is a legal way as outlined in the post to keep bees in DC. Just my experience.

Anonymous said...

This is nice one . We've been wanting to keep hives for years, but thought it was illegal. I'm glad to hear there are others out there keeping hives successfully. how about others ? i think i must take a seminar topics from this hive idea ... its may be one nice things

aliaisasuperstar said...

Taking a chance you may be willing and able to point me in the right direction...I have what I believe are wasps underneath the the steps leading up to my front porch, but I can't see the nest and am afraid to get very close. I'm trying to find information and/or someone who can help me out - I need to get rid of the stinging insects but I'm loathe to use any commercial pesticide, and I'm not sure if there are any genuinely environmentally-friendly exterminators out there. A friend suggested I find someone with a beekeeper suit who would be willing to root around to find and id the nest. Do you have any suggestions? Many thanks in advance, Alia K.

Phang said...

If you are nearby, I am sure I can get someone to have a look. If you post contact details in another comment I will not publish them.

Techlib Seminars said...

This is a good idea

Tehseen said...

I think I just heard you on NPR this morning at WAMU. Liked it a lot. I heard, that honey collected right from your own backyard is good for the allergies. For the last two years I have been wanting to start, definitely this year!

Tehseen said...

I think I just heard you on WAMU-Latitude this morning, nice.

I have been thinking about starting for the last two years. I heard that honey from your own backyard is good for the allergies. Definitely this year!