BURGAW -- Beekeeping is a hobby that has recently been at the center of countless discussions due to a national and statewide honeybee shortage. It has especially been the buzz in Burgaw. When a Burgaw woman recently went to town hall to ask if there was anything restricting her from raising bees on her property, town officials realized there isn't an ordinanace against it, but it also isn't on a list of permitted land uses in the town. On Thursday the Planning Board recommended an ordinance be added to the list of permitted land uses. The Board of Commissioners will vote on the issue April 8th. Town Planner Chad McEwen said, "I've spoken with NC State and folks at the state bee lab at NC State and they've pretty much resolved any concerns or hesitations I had on safety concerns." Ray Benton is a Pender County beekeeper who lives outside of Burgaw town limits. He has five hives on his property and says bees are gentle creatures. He said, "They are not destructive, they don't create any problems, it's just that most people are scared to death of a bee sting, which is nothing." If the Burgaw bee ordinance is passed, people will have to pay a $30 zoning fee to have hives on their property. Benton said, "We wouldn't have anything to eat if there weren't any bees. But when a guy has to invest $200, $250 to start a hive, just to have a few bees, it's going to be upsetting to have to go buy a permit." McEwen received a letter from the president of the State Beekeepers Association commending the town's effort to work with beekeepers. "From what the state apiary expert told me, there's no additional danger or concern with having bee boxes that doesn't already exist with normal bees," he said. McEwen said it's unlikely a beekeeping ordinance would be passed for high density districts of Burgaw.
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