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Holland considers allowing beekeeping in neighborhoods

11:24 PM, May 13, 2013   |    comments
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(AP image)

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- There's buzz going on in Holland over possible changes to an ordinance that would allow beekeepers in residential areas. Local beekeepers say relaxing the rules could help the honeybee population as it continues to decline.

Beekeeper Tom Volkema has two empty beehives at his house, but for years they were filled with honeybees. He was told by city leaders that beekeeping was not allowed in residential areas.

"Either because they considered them nuisances or because here in the city of Holland, each resident is only allowed two pets and I had 80,000," says Volkema.

Now, Volkema wants them back. He's asking city leaders to change the beekeeping ordinance like other cities have.

"I also have an apartment in Manhattan, and the borough in Manhattan changed their ordinance to allow bees, so I thought if I can have bees on the top of my 34 story high-rise on the Upper East Side, why not be able to keep them here in Holland?" says Volkema.

There is also a national honey bee shortage, so Volkema says beekeepers like himself should be encouraged.

"It's an agricultural industry and we want to be supportive where we can," says Phil Meyer, Director of Holland Neighborhood and Community Services.

However, city leaders say not everyone wants beekeepers right next door.

"The concerns that could be raised are the proximity to residential units, what are the conditions you have to have to support a bee colony?" says Meyer.

"Honeybees, especially at this time during the spring, are about as aggressive as five day old kittens," says Volkema.

Holland city leaders could discuss changes to the beekeeping ordinance during Tuesday's planning commission meeting, which will include a public hearing as well.

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