DC Beekeepers have for a long time been flying under the radar of city officials, and our neighbors… we have been keeping our hives in a sort of legal grey area, where the formal laws were more ambiguous than elucidating in terms of what was allowed and what wasn’t. DC beekeeping was thriving, but it was mostly doing so in secret, until slowly but surely gaining the confidence to come out of the closet and begin going public with its glorious awesomeness starting around 2010.
As part of the Mayor Vincent Grey’s efforts to lead DC on the sustainability front, City Council passed the Sustainable DC Act of 2012 (B19-756) in December. Lots of input from the DC Beekeeping community helped that bill incorporate wording that was considerably friendlier towards beekeeping. The new bill may involve inspections on urban beehives and fines, so now is the time to keep the communication lines healthy and strong with the Mayor’s office.
I’ve just written the mayor myself to add my voice to the chorus of thanks and to reiterate the importance of getting the details on the final rules and regulations sorted out in a beekeeping-friendly manner. So, DEAR READERS, NOW IS THE TIME FOR YOU TO WRITE THE MAYOR, TOO:
Here’s my letter, so that you have some draft wording to riff on in writing Mayor Gray yourself:
Dear Mayor Gray,
I am writing to express my delight in the DC Council’s passage of the Sustainable DC Act. I write to request that you sign and support the bill (B19-756: Sustainable DC Act of 2012), and particularly pay attention to the parts of the bill that regulate beekeeping in the District.
As the campus beekeeper at American University, I maintain five beehives on our campus, and am the faculty adviser for our student beekeeping club. Keeping beekeeping safe and legal is of fundamental importance to our urban environment for the role that honeybees play in pollination, which is a vital ecosystem service. For my students, gaining exposure to and experience with beekeeping also provides an important hands-on experience of environmental education.
As both a DC resident and urban beekeeper, it is imperative to me that the parts of the bill pertaining to beekeeping should not impose prohibitive fines on beekeepers or necessitate burdensome inspections and licensing requirements. I value the safety of all of the District’s citizenry and know that the beekeeping community in DC is encouraging good beekeeping practices as part of its foundational mission.
Beekeepers in our community are already working with DC Parks and Recreation on a multi-year project which has placed hives in 7 community gardens and rec centers across the city, and we now teach beekeeping to the arborists of DDOT’s United Forestry Administration—the city’s own on-staff biologists who are often the first to find colonies of feral bees that may harbor the genetic adaptations that will save the honeybee. I would be honored to work with you to create a viable, environmentally sound, economical and practical foundation for the future of beekeeping in DC. I am at your staff’s disposal to discuss any way we can help.