In a country where nearly everything people consume is shipped from overseas and bought in a grocery store, farm and eco-friendly efforts are quickly growing in many states, and Michigan is no exception. Most recently, several cities are making legal strides toward allowing more residents to raise their own bees and chickens.
The Lansing State Journal reports that Delta Township Board of Trustees is considering reforming its zoning ordinances in residential neighborhoods, which currently restrict both bee and chicken raising.
Similarly, Grand Rapids is also working on loosening beekeeping restrictions. While the city legalized urban backyard chicken farming last year, it still has strict rules regarding beekeeping. The 13-year-old regulations only allow for beehives that are at least 100 feet from property lines and 150 feet from houses. For most city residents, those demands are simply impossible to meet.
One advocate of the loosening of beekeeping restrictions is Amy DeVrou, who voiced her concerns to the City Commission, according to MLive.
“The bees need our help,” she said. “Bees are important [for plant pollination and honey production] and they are dying off and we can do something about it…The main concern I hear is about people getting stung by bees. But modern bees are bred to be gentle and they don’t sting unless they’re threatened, stepped on or you’re going into their hive. When they’re out collecting pollen and nectar they have a job they’re trying to do.”
DeVrou’s argument seems more than sensible. While it’s true that honey bees can fly up to 15 miles per hour, the average person has a very low risk of being stung unless they’re intentionally aggravating the bees — they’re generally just trying to get their work done and stay out of the way.
The City of Holland, however, has allowed residents to raise both chickens and bees for years, according to Fox 17 News. Holland Charter Township officials are trying to do the same: improve self-sustainability by allowing residents to raise their own chickens and bees. A 12×12 inch box is all that is needed for a chicken to lay her eggs, and many residents would be grateful to have a bigger say in how they get their food.
“There’s a lot of people who would like to have chickens and bees,” said Holland Charter Township resident Tim Marr at a meeting Tuesday with the Planning Commission. “Like I said, the bee problem we’re having now they are so low they’re thinking about putting them on the endangered species list.”
“There’s really very little danger. With a little bit of education about the property, it really shouldn’t be a problem,” another resident chimed in. Fortunately, there didn’t seem to be much opposition to the proposal.
Hopefully, if these West Michigan towns continue to make strides toward eco-friendliness and self-sustainability, nearby towns will continue to follow suit.