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House OKs bill protecting beekeepers, supporting industry

• Mar 21, 2018 at 7:34 PM

COLUMBUS — State Rep. Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) today announced the passage of legislation he sponsored that provides legal protections for beekeepers, aiming to support the vital industry of beekeeping and honey production in the state of Ohio.

House Bill 392 shields beekeepers in the event that an individual claims injury by a specific bee from the beekeeper’s property, which can lead to thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend.

It is nearly impossible to assign liability to these beekeepers for several reasons: Bees can forage up to two miles from their colony, each colony could have close to 60,000 bees, most bees will not attack unless provoked, and many feral bees can be in the same proximity as registered bees, making it difficult to distinguish which bee it is.

The bill provides immunity for beekeepers in personal injury and property damage cases as long as they meet specified conditions. These conditions include:

• The beekeeper complies with local and state zoning laws pertaining to apiaries;

• The beekeeper registers his or her colony with the Department of Agriculture;

• The beekeeper implements and maintains compliance with beekeeping industry best management practices.

“I was happy to vote our apiary bill off the floor today,” Stein said. “This important protection for our beekeeping community will help to mitigate frivolous lawsuits while helping the Department of Agriculture keep track of the hives in our communities for the prevention of disease and colony collapse disorder.”

The bill works to strengthen and enrich the growing industry of pollinators in Ohio, which according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, adds $600 million in value to the state’s farming sector each year. In fact, in 2016, the number of registered beekeepers in the state was up nearly 1,000 in 2015.

House Bill 392 will now be sent to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.

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