Apiary regulations considered

WESTFIELD- The Board of Health is seeking input from the Department of Public Health (DPH) about beekeeping regulations that were proposed in last month’s Board of Health meeting.

Health Director Joseph Rouse said during the May 14 meeting that he wanted to get input from the DPH to ensure that no factors are omitted from the new regulations. 

“We want it to contain a local regulation that requires beekeepers to notify their abutters in case there are allergy concerns,” said Rouse. 

Westfield Health Director

Last month Rouse suggested that it should be required that beekeepers inform the city that they will be keeping bee hives on their property, but he chose to drop that requirement. 

“What we are really looking at is having a local regulation with some teeth,” said Rouse. 

He said his hope is that the regulations can be based on the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association’s best practices guide. 

“The missions of all beekeepers associations is all about education and making sure it is done responsibly with the least impact to the public,” said Rouse.

Should one fail to keep their bees from becoming a nuisance to their neighbors, the Health Department may conduct an investigation and possibly hand down enforcement.

Ward 6 City Councilor William Onyski pointed out that the Massachusetts Beekeepers Association’s best practices also have a lot size requirement that he knows some of his constituents do not meet. He suggested that lot size requirements be left out of the final regulations.

“If somebody is a bad beekeeper they will be a bad beekeeper on a one acre lot or a quarter acre lot,” said Onyski.

Rouse agreed to leave lot size requirements out of the regulations and to make enforcement of lot sizes at the discretion of the Board of Health. No vote was taken during the May 14 meeting to implement any new regulations.

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