September 20, 2014

Please Support LD 1184 – An Act to Limit Liability of Apiary Owners and Operators

In regard to the article on LD 1184 the membership should know that as of May 3, 2011 the bill will not be moving forward.
Please do not sent letters to your reps and senators at this time.
Suzanne Brewer
Secretary, MSBA

The Maine State Beekeepers Association has been working on replicating the West Virginia Beekeeper Indemnity Law in our State.

Erin Forbes, President Maine State Beekeepers Association

Erin Forbes, President Maine State Beekeepers Association

In essence this legislation will limit ordinary liability for beekeepers with respect to their beekeeping operation if: 1) their apiary is currently registered with the State of Maine Department of Agriculture and 2) the beekeeper is following Best Management Practices in their beekeeping endeavors. (see Best Management Practices here.) The bill text can be found here: Sponsors and co-sponsors can be found here: as well as a contact information phone number for the Office of Legislation (whom we assume can provide more information about the schedule for the committee.

We believe that this Legislation is important for all Maine beekeepers and for the State of Maine for the following reasons:

  • it portrays beekeeping in a positive light and promotes beekeeping as a safe and positive agricultural practice
  • it encourages new beekeepers who might be intimidated by our increasingly litigious society
  • it further incentivizes hive registration
  • it encourages the use of Maine Beekeeping Best Management Practices in Maine apiaries.

There will be a hearing at the State House this Thursday, 4/14/2011 (time unknown, but is expected to be around 1pm please call the State House for more details 207-287-1670 or Office of Legislation 207-287-1692). Public input is expected. I strongly urge anyone who can attend to write up a quick (3 minute) discussion point on the matter and please attend the committee meeting and support this bill. The more people who appear and support the bill the better it will be perceived and understood.

If you can not attend, you can send written comments to the committee clerk, Rebecca Morrell rebecca.morrell@legislature.maine.gov and she will print and distribute your comments to the committee. (Clearly given the time constraints, email will be the only way to get your comments to the committee on time but here is her mailing address anyway, in case you want to follow up with hard copy)

Rebecca Morrell
Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
c/o Legislative Information
100 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333

I know that this is very short notice, but we are just learning of the details of the input. Basically, Thursday is public input day. One week later will be a private discussion session amongst the committee and then the committee will send the bill along with positive recommendation, mixed recommendation, or they will kill the bill and not move it forward.

Please attend the public hearing Thursday if you can, and if you can’t, please send along written comments to the committee clerk to pass along. If the bill is moved forward, please be prepared to write, call or talk in person to your state Senators and House Representatives. This bill is important to beekeepers and to bees, as well as to the general public who benefit from our prolific pollinators.

Below is a draft letter of support which you might use as a base for your own comments to our state government.
Please take a moment and support this legislation which will help all of us and our bees.

Sincerely,

-Erin Forbes, President
Maine State Beekeepers Association

 


 

[YOUR NAME AND ADDRESS]

[DATE]

[LEGISLATOR’S NAME AND ADDRESS]

Honorable [LEGISLATOR NAME],

As a constituent and a beekeeper in the state of Maine, I am writing to urge you to support LD 1184 “An Act to Limit Liability of Apiary Owners and Operators”, sponsored by Senator John L. Patrick and co-sponsored by Representative L. Gary Knight.

The health of honeybee colonies in the wild, those kept commercially, and kept by hobbyists has been in decline for years, caused by various pests, increased agricultural chemical usage, and increasing scarcity of forage. For the same reasons that honey bees are in decline, native pollinators are also less available. More than ever, beekeepers are needed to provide vital pollination services for production of a wide array of produce in both commercial and small scale farming operations as well as for gardening and horticulture in their surrounding communities. Small scale beekeepers (with a few hives in their own back yards and farm locations) make up over 90% of all the beekeepers in Maine. The colonies of these small scale beekeepers fill the need for pollination in their communities.

LD 1184 supports and enables beekeeping on all scales by limiting liability for beekeepers who properly register their bee hives and who operate their apiaries in good faith and in accordance with Best Management Practices for Beekeeping as established by the Maine State Beekeepers Association in consultation with our State Apiarist, Tony Jadcazk of the Maine Department of Agriculture.

LD 1184 also supports objectives of the Maine Department of Agriculture by offering significant incentive for beekeepers to register their hives. Beehive registration provides revenue for the Department of Agriculture and provides important information about the location of Apiaries, the number of beehives, and contact information for beekeepers operating in the State of Maine. Registration also supports the efforts of the State Apiarist responsible for inspecting beekeeping operations for study and management of diseases and pathogens affecting bee health.

Beekeeping is important to our communities in a variety of ways. In addition to the jobs, products and services provided, beekeeping is also a great family hobby. The value of a vital and involved beekeeping community in Maine cannot be over stated. It is said that one out of three bites of the average American meal can be directly attributed to honeybee pollination. It is important to note also that honey bees pollinate many native species in Maine, providing vital food sources to wild birds and animals through pollination of crabapple, chokecherry, raspberries, wild blueberries and a vast array of other fruit, nut and seed producing plants upon which Maine’s wildlife population depends. LD 1184 promotes compliance with Best Management Practices for Beekeeping and encourages responsible beekeeping at all levels, allowing for a healthy pollinator population which will enable our landscape to remain an abundant source of food and forage and refuge for people and wildlife alike. This bill also welcomes a vital beekeeping community which will foster, promote, and keep Maine’s State Insect, the Honey Bee healthy and active in our communities for years to come.

On behalf of beekeepers and consumers throughout Maine, I urge you to support LD 1184, “An Act to Limit Liability of Apiary Owners and Operators”.

Respectfully and Sincerely,

[YOUR NAME]

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