Lumberton works to reverse beekeeping ban

LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – Lumberton City Council adopted a revised bee ordinance Monday night after an ordinance was issued two years ago that said it was illegal to ban beekeeping.

President of the Robeson County Beekeepers Association, Terry Nunnery, said because he lives outside of city limits he isn’t concerned about the ordinance for himself, but said he is concerned for members of the Robeson Beekeeper Association.

“They’re going to have to abide by the rules,” he said at Monday night’s meeting. “Right now it does not worry me because of the property that I have, but a lot of people want to be beekeepers, but they don’t have the means of knowing how to do it or where to keep them at.”

Nunnery owns a beekeeping farm and has 10 beehives on his property. The revised bee ordinance requires no more than five beehives to be within city limits and states that the hives must be at least 175 feet away from someone else’s property. Council Member Leroy Rising said this would help protect citizens.

“That certainly should be sufficient and safe for those people who may be allergic to bees,” said Rising. “The bees are not the ones who really cause a problem for most folks; it’s the wasps and hornets.”

Rising said the ordinance was revised because Robeson Community College received a grant for students to study bees and they needed an ordinance passed to have the beehives in the city.

A change in North Carolina state law stopped outright bans on beekeeping after someone asked to keep hives in their home. That ordinance states, in part, that “no county shall adopt or continue in effect any ordinance or resolution that prohibits any person or entity from owning or possessing five or fewer hives.”

Nunnery said he thinks it’s important for people to learn the proper way to beekeeping.

“People are really uneducated about bees because the first thing they say is well ‘they’re going to sting you’,” he said. “Most of the time if you leave them alone and don’t mash them or invade their territory, they’ll warn you, but they won’t sting right away.”

He said he hopes this ordinance will help people understand the importance and purpose of bees in the community.

“We’re trying to raise and produce beekeepers instead of bee killers,” he said.