By Tatiana Diaz – The Collegiate Staff
Beekeeping is no longer just a hobby, it’s a conservation effort to save the bees from extinction.
Joel Frank, the Applied Technology Center’s Technical Operation Technician at Grand Rapids Community College, is trying to accomplish just that through his efforts to get the City of Cedar Springs to allow its residents to keep bees.
Currently, the City of Cedar Springs, per its Domestic Animals and Fowl ordinance, does not allow any animals other than dogs, cats, or common pets to be kept as pets in the city. This ordinance prevents beekeepers, like Frank, from keeping bees on their property.
“I got a notice that it was illegal to have bees,” Frank said. “First I checked with the code enforcer, and he said I could have a beehive. In May 2017, I moved the beehive there [to Cedar Springs], then they had a complaint. That’s when I approached the city council about keeping the bees.”
Frank believes the issue of this residential beekeeping ban lies, in part, in the unfamiliarity with bees.
“I’m trying to educate them,” Frank said. “They don’t understand bees, so their rules show that.”
In an effort to educate students about bees and their importance in our ecosystem, Ross Park Elementary School in Norton Shores introduced their observational beehive in April 2016. Grand Valley State University and the Muskegon Area Career Tech Center also offer courses in beekeeping to help ease some fears about bees and to teach students the value of bees.
Bees are an essential part of our environment. Not only do they produce honey, but they’re also one of Earth’s great pollinators. Pollinators are responsible for helping plant reproduction through the process of pollination and aid in the production of fruits and vegetables.
“We wouldn’t have a lot of food if not for bees,” Frank said.
There are several theories on why bees are endangered. Frank attributes their decline in numbers mostly to genetically modified organisms (GMO’s).
“The GMO is right in the DNA of plants,” Frank said. “It’s just that it’s such a trace amount that it’s not evident to us just yet.”
Frank says his main goal is to have the city of Cedar Springs allow beekeeping so he can continue his passion of keeping his bees.
The next Planning Committee meeting will be held on Nov. 17, the ordinance passes it will be sent to city council for final approval on Nov. 9. Until then Frank will enjoy his bees from his home and the bees will keep on buzzing.