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Officials consider bee rules
Buzz continues over code issue
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Forsyth County News

Forsyth County commissioners plan to address whether beekeeping should be allowed in residential areas.

The issue has stirred much discussion since a local hobbyist, Nicholas Weaver, and his supporters brought it to light last month.

They’re pushing to clarify county code and clear the way for beekeeping.

Commissioner Pete Amos met with the Forsyth County Beekeepers Club last week to understand members’ needs.

"I just asked the beekeepers to work with us to see how other counties are dealing with this," Amos said. "We’re going to look at our [unified development code] to see what we can do to satisfy this situation."

He added that until the county resolves the matter, Weaver and other home beekeepers will be allowed to continue their hobby.

"We want to work with them. We’re not against bees," Amos said. "There seems to be a loophole in our UDC … The issue just came up, and there wasn’t any place to classify bees [in the county code.]"

Commissioners will take up the matter at an upcoming work session, he said, possibly in December.

In the meantime, the beekeeping community will help compile information and offer input on how to best clarify the matter.

The issue dates to August, when Weaver was notified he was violating county code by raising livestock in a residential district.

Weaver, who had been keeping bees on his property in a subdivision along Tribble Gap Road for about a dozen years, then sought answers through the governmental chain of command.

He eventually talked with Tom Brown, the county’s planning director, who confirmed the interpretation of code enforcement.

Under a review of the current code language, Brown said bees, as domesticated animals, fall under the definition of livestock, which is not allowed in residentially zoned areas.

Weaver said Amos’ visit to the club was the first step, though the code change process the commissioner asked the club to lead likely will take months.

"I imagine there will be some restrictions. I just hope they’re logical and reasonable," Weaver said. "That’s fine. You’ve got to protect the beekeepers and the public."