“Bees play a crucial role in the food chain and New Jersey’s agriculture industry as a whole,” said Oroho. “With honey bee populations hit hard by disease in recent years, beekeepers’ efforts to manage and maintain bee populations have become increasingly important. These new laws recognize that importance by making it easier for commercial and hobbyist beekeepers to operate throughout New Jersey.”
One of the bills signed into law today, S-1328/A-1294, extends “Right to Farm” protections to commercial beekeepers to protect them from restrictive municipal ordinances and public and private nuisance complaints. Under the “Right to Farm Act” complaints against agricultural operations are referred to county agricultural boards rather than municipal courts, eliminating the burden of lengthy and expensive litigation.
A second bill signed that is also sponsored by Senator Oroho, S-1975/A-1295, authorizes the state to regulate all beekeeping activities in New Jersey and requires the state to prepare best management practices for beekeepers. Under the bill the state could give municipalities a role in managing local regulatory authority. Municipalities, however, would be prevented from adopting an ordinance banning beekeeping altogether.
"The interest in hobbyist beekeeping has grown since it was discovered that honey bee populations were declining in New Jersey,"Oroho added. "This unfortunately has created some misinformed concerns in certain residential areas because of a fear of stinging insects. However, honey bees are known for their passive nature as opposed to wasps and hornets that are more aggressive and can be a nuisance. This legislation makes sure that local officials who might be unfamiliar with the practice can’t ban beehives, while at the same time establishing a set of best practices for beekeepers to operate under."
"There's an important reason the honey bee is our state insect," concluded Oroho. "The honey bee is a critical pollinator and responsible for one-third of the food we consume, contributing millions to our state's economy. We couldn't be the 'Garden State' without the honey bee."