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Md. county eases space limits for bees

Jan. 19, 2011 at 11:55 PM

ELLICOTT CITY, Md., Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Officials in Howard County, Md., are considering changes in the law regulating beehives kept by amateur beekeepers in suburban neighborhoods.

Howard County classifies bees as livestock, as though a hive was a barn full of cows or pigs, The Baltimore Sun reports. That means they must be at least 200 feet away from neighboring houses.

The bees became an issue when Sam Peperone, a grandfather who lives in Columbia, Md., complained about the six hives his neighbors, Jeri and Dan Hemerlein, maintain on their 3.5-acre property. Now, the county is planning to amend its rules for bees.

A measure being considered by county commissioners would require hives to be at least 25 feet away from a property line -- and that would be cut to 10 if there is a 6-foot fence.

Amateur beekeeping, sparked by interest in locally grown food and publicity about colony collapse disorder, is becoming more common. Cities like Baltimore and Washington have regulations that allow beekeeping even in rowhouse backyards.

At a Howard commissioners meeting Tuesday night, Commissioner Courtney Watson of Ellicott City offered an amendment saying backyard hives are banned from "unreasonably interfering with the property of others or the comfort of the public." That would presumably protect people with legitimate gripes, the Sun said.

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