We missed a lot of the swarm activity this year since we were in Alaska for a month. However, we have been told that many people captured swarms–either their own or others–with good success. The Black Hills Wannabe Hobby Beekeepers club has a good network of people, both those who will capture and those who would like to receive a captured swarm. This works well for everyone. We have received several calls recently from outlying areas about swarms. Of course, not all calls turn out to be honey bees, especially this time of year. Many are wasps and even bumble bees. The good thing is: people are calling first before destroying. Education is working! Another good thing is that we have so many club members in so many areas that we can respond quickly. This, too, is good for everyone and is excellent public relations. So, in this regard, the club is serving a very important community service. Thanks to all of you!
We have had a busy several weeks. Rapid City is all a-buzz about hobby beekeepers within the city limits. In the eleven years I have been keeping bees, this is the first complaint I have heard of. Upon investigation it seems this was more of a personal issue than a beekeeping issue. Basically a neighbor of a fellow hobby beekeeper saw bees around his grandchildren’s wading pool. Instead of going two doors down and talking to the beekeeper, he called animal control. Animal control interpreted the city ordinance to mean beekeeping was not allowed and notified our beekeeper he had two weeks to dispose of the bees or face a hefty fine accrued daily. The interpretation was that bees were classified as wild animals. The beekeeper and several past and present officers of the Wannabee Beekeepers Association met with the city committee that over sees animal control. They were told they must comply as directed. The next step was to go before the entire city council and speak to the issue. A number of club members came to speak and to show support. In addition, people who were not beekeepers came to speak and show support. Between the committee meeting and the full council meeting there was much activity on the part of the beekeepers, researching other areas and other ordinances of cities that do allow beekeeping. Of course there are many outstanding examples of such cities such as Paris, New York, Salt Lake City and numerous smaller cities. After the public input at the council meeting it was voted on to review the ordinance and the city attorney was to work with the beekeepers to come up with either a new or revised ordinance that would allow beekeeping within the city limits. Later that week at the regularly scheduled club meeting, the assistant city attorney was present and heard comments from the club members. We voted to have a committee consisting of Jerry Owens, Bill Clements, Tom Allen and John McDowell who would come up with language acceptable to the club and act as liaison with the city. We have not won the war but it appears we might have won a battle and perhaps a war will not develop.