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New Bee website for Iowans

DES MOINES – The Iowa Honey Producers Association (IHPA) proudly announces the immediate availability of www.BeeLaws.org. This website helps Iowa residents learn their city’s ordinances related to beekeeping.  BeeLaws.org is believed to be the first searchable bee law website in the nation.

Anyone curious about placing a bee hive can open the website, choose a city listed on the front page, read pertinent excerpts from that city’s ordinances, and see contact information for city staff. Digital code citations are given where possible.

“Iowa continues to see significant growth in beekeeping.  The number of beekeepers in Iowa has increased roughly three-fold in about a decade.  We’ve grown from approximately 1500 beekeepers in the early 2000s to an estimated 4500 beekeepers today.  Much of this new small-scale beekeeping effort is taking place within more urban areas.  This typically works very well for the bees, beekeepers, and surrounding landscape.  But beekeepers within city limits should be conscious of their municipal codes,” said Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture.

“I am very excited for this new website,” said Roy Kraft, President of the IHPA. “One of the most common questions we get as beekeepers is if it’s legal to keep bees where someone lives, and no one really knew until now.”

Andy Joseph, State Apiarist for the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS), chose 77 cities from around the state for inclusion on BeeLaws.org, with the hope of growth in the number of apiaries in and around those cities. Cities where beginning beekeeping classes were held in 2015 were also included on the website. No additional cities will be added in 2016 while Julia McGuire, Project Investigator, conducts analysis of the bee law website and its impact.

With growing interest in pollinator presence and pollinator habitat, www.BeeLaws.org aims to responsibly fill a knowledge gap of Iowans interested in bee keeping.

“With increased interest in beekeeping over the last year and a half, I want to help people keep bees and I want to help them do it legally,” said McGuire, coordinator of the Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers club and beekeeper since 2011. “BeeLaws.org aims to remove the burden of taking time to find the appropriate staff member at city hall, and then potentially facing negative impacts. If you cannot find a place in town to legally keep bees, you can hopefully use the website to find legal, nearby areas without having to spend a lot of time on the phone and free of risk.”

Founded in 1912, the IHPA serves over 900 members through monthly newsletters, a great number of beekeeping courses hosted in locations across Iowa, a youth beekeeping scholarship program, a summer field day, and an annual meeting for education and networking. The organization aims to grow the Iowa honey industry through education and promotion.