The New Jersey Farm Bureau says bees are a vital part of the state’s agriculture business because of their role in pollinating so many crops as part of fruit production.
Measures advancing through the state legislature would help the people who maintain honeybees.
The number of those with honeybee colonies in the Garden State has tripled over eight years, according to Janet Kratz, president of the Beekeepers Association of New Jersey.
That’s led to problems with neighbors who fear the bees will attack them or reduce property values.
Katz, who has hives on her one-acre property in Morris County, believes laws passed by towns to regulate beekeeping are misguided.
“I’ve had four hives for the 22 year that I’ve lived here, at times there have been more. I have neighbors on three sides, and I’ve never had a problem,” she said. “I know of people in Newark who have bees just a few feet from a public sidewalk, and nobody knows that they have bees.”
The bills lawmakers are considering would extend right-to-farm protections to beekeepers to prevent neighbors from hassling them. Towns would be prohibited from enacting local laws to regulate beekeepers.
Katz said she’s encouraged by the pending legislation.
“We are the Garden State, the honeybee is out state insect, and with these two pieces of legislation, we’ll be able to focus more on educating the public, educating new beekeepers, and, hopefully, keeping the beekeeping industry alive and vibrant in the state for years to come,” she said.