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Hawaii County proposal -- good direction for Oahu beekeeping
By Grassroot Institute @ 10:18 PM :: 362 Views :: Hawaii County , Honolulu County, Agriculture, Small Business

Helton hails Hawaii County proposal as direction for Oahu beekeeping

Hawaii Island lawmakers consider more liberal beekeeping rules while Honolulu County lawmakers ponder making them tougher

from Grassroot Institute of Hawaii

The future of beekeeping in Hawaii appears to be headed in two very different directions, depending on the island.

Speaking this past Sunday with host Johnny Miro of the H. Hawaii Media radio network, Grassroot Institute policy researcher Jonathan Helton discussed the contrasting beekeeping-related zoning bills before the county councils on Hawaii Island and Oahu.

Helton highlighted Hawaii's significant role in the export of queen bees, noting that Hawaii County alone supplies the continental U.S. with one-third of its queen bees and provides more than three-quarters of those in Canada — contributing over $20 million to the local economy annually.

Helton suggested that these figures could increase further if the Hawaii County Council passes Bill 144, which aims to remove certain zoning regulations that limit beekeeping to agricultural land and impose setback requirements for beehives.

The Honolulu City Council, on the other hand, is deliberating zoning updates that would hinder urban and suburban beekeeping by prohibiting it on lots smaller than 5,000 square feet and reducing the number of allowable hives on larger properties.

"I think as a state, we [should] want to support more of our local hobbyist and commercial beekeepers and our farmers," said Helton. But the Honolulu proposal is "kind of the opposite direction of where we want to go."

Helton said he likes the approach of Bill 144, stating that it will benefit both the local beekeeping industry and the global agricultural sector, which relies on imported bees for crop pollination.

"One really important thing that state and county lawmakers can do is they can also try to identify regulatory barriers to local agriculture. And I think that the beekeepers on the Big Island, they've really found one right here," he said.

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