As Joel Salatin wrote, “Everything I want to do is illegal.”
This can often feel true, especially when you want to live a more self-sufficient life. Not all of us are in a situation where we can live in a rural area. Perhaps you have a “city” job that you enjoy, but would like a small garden plot, or to raise a few chickens for eggs or keep a hive of bees.
It’s been proven time and time again that small, well-managed livestock can thrive in an urban setting. Which makes it frustrating when local laws prevent people from partaking in small-scale hobby ventures like beekeeping.
I’m convinced that many of these laws exist because there is an outdated ignorance among the general public about what urban farming actually looks like.
We’ve removed ourselves so far from our food sources that the reintroduction of these practices seems odd and even worrisome to people who haven’t been exposed.
Where beekeeping is concerned, there’s even more at stake than your right to produce your own food, there’s also the worldwide concern about the bee population in general. Bees need our help, and government should be encouraging anyone who wants to get involved.
But things can change, and you can be the one to change them. On almost a weekly basis, a positive story comes through my news feed that neighborhoods, cities, and townships are changing these restrictive laws and allowing people to raise a few chickens, keep bees on building rooftops, and dig up their lawns to plant a garden.
Tips to change bee laws in your area
Arm your self with knowledge
Ignorance is the enemy here. Where bees are concerned, the big drawback is stinging. People imagine giant swarms of bees attacking children, mistaken Africanized colonies killing people etc.
You must have a knowledgeable grasp of how a hive behaves, why swarms are not threatening because they aren’t protecting a home, and a well-informed knowledge of beekeeping in general.
Showing examples of beekeeping working successfully in similar situations is a great tool. This can give your area a plan to mimic.
Get a passionate, experienced beekeeper on board
Chances are, if you’re fighting for beekeeping to be allowed in your area, you don’t own a hive. Find someone who can lend their experience to the situation. This gives your argument more credibility.
Hone in on the person responsible for making changes
Often these sorts of things are blandly put in front of a board. The advocates are strangers, they’re allowed to speak for their 20 minute session, give their case, and then a decision is made. There’s not a lot of personal connection being made.
Find out the representative responsible and reach out to them. Introduce yourself andtell them why you’re passionate.
Locals who support the cause
Get your community on board. Organize a beekeeping meeting so people can be reassured about the safety of beekeeping. Let them ask all their questions before you get to vote.
As I’ve said in past posts, beekeeping can be seen as a humanitarian effort. It’s not just about honey, it’s about the food we eat. The world needs bees. Stress how backyard beekeepers are helping to increase the number of pollinators worldwide.
Read more in my post The Ethics of Beekeeping.
Contact your local media. You’ll reach a lot of people with your message, and will often get the community to feel passionate and supportive.