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Website starts to assist Iowans to keep bees legally

By Staff | Jan 14, 2016

WEST DES MOINES (IHPA) – The Iowa Honey Producers Association announced Monday the immediate availability of www.BeeLaws.org.

This website helps Iowa residents learn their city’s ordinances related to beekeeping.

It is believed to be the first searchable bee law website in the nation.

Anyone curious about placing a bee hive can open the website, choose a city listed on the front page, read pertinent excerpts from that city’s ordinances, and see contact information for city staff.

Digital code citations are given where possible.

“I am very excited for this new website,” said Roy Kraft, president of the Iowa Honey Producers Association. “One of the most common questions we get as beekeepers is if it’s legal to keep bees where someone lives, and noone really knew until now.”

Andy Joseph, state apiarist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, chose 77 cities from around the state for inclusion on BeeLaws.org, with the hope of growth in the number of apiaries in and around those cities.

Cities where beginning beekeeping classes were held in 2015 were also included on the website. No more cities will be added in 2016 while Julia McGuire, project investigator, conducts analysis of the bee law website and its impact.

Environmental impact

With national concern over pollinator presence and pollinator habitat, www.BeeLaws.org aims to responsibly fill the knowledge gap of Iowans interested in bee keeping.

“With increased interest in beekeeping over the last year and a half, I want to help people keep bees and I want to help them do it legally,” said McGuire, coordinator of the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers club and beekeeper since 2011. “BeeLaws.org aims to remove the burden of taking time to find the appropriate staff member at city hall, and then potentially facing negative impacts.

“If you cannot find a place in town to legally keep bees, you can hopefully use the website to find legal, nearby areas without having to spend a lot of time on the phone and free of risk.”

Written in lay terms, www.BeeLaws.org is a mobile-friendly website and is supported by the IHPA and the Iowa Specialty Crop Block Grant Program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through grant 15SCBGPIA0001.

Founded in 1912, the IHPA, a 501(c)(5) agricultural organization and affiliate of the Iowa State Horticultural Society, serves over 900 members through monthly newsletters, a summer field day, and an annual meeting for education and networking.

The organization aims to grow the Iowa honey industry through education and promotion.

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