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Beekeeping bill co-sponsored by McInnis, Brock

Two Senators representing Rowan County are introducing the birds and the bees to the state legislature.

Named “The Birds and the Bees Act,” a bill sponsored by Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, and Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25, would ban municipalities and counties from adopting ordinances that prohibit possession of five or fewer bee hives. Brock and McInnis are co-sponsors of the bill. Nearly a dozen senators have backed the measure as a primary or co-sponsor.

The name of the bill may be comical, Brock said, but the issue — agriculture — is an important one.

“In North Carolina, agriculture is our number one business,” Brock said. “Every day is agriculture day in North Carolina. It’s the big enchilada here.”

He said during the recession that followed the 2008 economic downturn, agriculture in North Carolina kept the economy afloat.

Similarly, McInnis referenced agriculture, but specifically cited pollination and basic human survival as reasons for the bill.

“We’ve got to have pollinators to supply our food source and make sure it’s secure,” he said.

One example of restricting bee hives that McInnis recalled occurred in Whispering Pines, a village in Moore County. The village’s governing board in late 2014 considered whether to allow beekeeping within its limits. The board eventually voted to allow beekeeping, but with certain conditions. The conditions included applying for a special use permit, alerting neighbors and attending a beekeeping course.

Rowan County Beekeepers Association President Randy Cox said the five hives listed in the bill would be an average level for a hobbyist beekeeper. A professional would likely have more, Cox said.

He echoed McInnis and Brock, citing the importance of bees in pollinating plants.

“If you look at a plate of food, one bite out of three is about equal to what’s pollinated by bees,” Cox said.

Whether its a hobby or a job, Cox said beekeeping in Rowan is fairly popular. The Rowan beekeepers’ association has 70 members, he said.

Beekeepers and scientists around the nation have pondered whether pesticides are a potential cause of colony collapse disorder, where a colony abruptly disappears. Cox said urban beekeeping is also picking up steam and may avoid colony collapse syndrome because of the absence of pesticides in urban areas.

“Urban colonies seem to be thriving, and they’ve done better because of the lesser susceptibility to pesticides,” he said. “There’s so much pollen and so much nectar to be gathered [in urban areas].”

Brock joked that bees don’t get angry without being provoked, eliminating the fear of bees as a reason to oppose the legislation.

“We are going to make agriculture a top priority,” Brock said.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246





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