Lucedale beekeeper may be forced to get rid of her hives

Lucedale beekeeper may be forced to get rid of her hives
Dorothy Hobby has six hives filled with hundreds of thousands of bees situated on the corner of two lots she owns. (Photo source: WLOX)

LUCEDALE, MS (WLOX) - The clock is running out for one Lucedale beekeeper to relocate her hives to outside of city limits. Dorothy Hobby has six hives filled with hundreds of thousands of bees situated on the corner of two lots she owns.

"My bees are my love," Hobby said.

The 80-year-old said she's been bee keeping in Lucedale city limits for the past six years, making honey as a supplemental form of income. 

"My bees are not a problem. They do not hurt anybody. People walk up and down my street, kids ride bicycles," Hobby said.

Now, city leaders are trying to force her to get rid of them. 

"I feel like they're picking on an old lady," Hobby said.

It all started with a petition by her neighbor that was presented to the board, saying the bees were creating a hazard.

"I literally knew nothing about it until I got a certified letter stating I had 30 days to remove my bees," said Hobby.

That was back in May.

"I was absolutely devastated," Hobby said. 

So, she went to the board for an extension. After much back and forth and pleading, the board gave her 90 days. 

Since then, Hobby and Mississippi Beekeepers member Michael Everett have been trying to sway the board to change their minds. 

"We've asked to try and modify the ordinances, try to work with the city in any way that we can," Everett said.

The board says they're not budging. They've given Hobby until Sept. 7 to get rid of her nearly 250,000 bees.

Lucedale Mayor Darwin Nelson issued this statement Wednesday:

In reference to the "bee" situation in our city, the City of Lucedale has nothing personal against the property owner who is harvesting honey from bees at the corner of Lamar and Oak streets. However, we do have a great concern for the safety and well-being of our citizens. We feel the ordinance we passed in May is in line with other similar ordinances across the country:

1. The operation is too close to the street.

2. The operation is not far enough off the property line.

3. There is not an adequate water source.

4. The operator does not reside at this location.

5.  There are no barriers in place.

6.  The acreage on which the bees are located is limited.

               7. The bees are a nuisance to the inhabitants in the immediate area and passersby.

Our action was in response to complaints we received from citizens who live in close proximity to the beekeeping operation, and were genuinely frightened at the prospect of bees occupying their space. Additionally, some residents in the immediate area are allergic to bee stings, and some have actually been harassed by them. Again, the property owner does not reside at this location, so, it is the neighbors who have to deal with the bees; including patrons and employees of Sigler Funeral Home, which is located adjacent to the property. We feel we have been more than fair in dealing with the aforementioned property owner, and have given her ample time to relocate her operation. In fact, there have been several individuals in our community who have come forward and offered to relocate the bees on their property at no charge. We felt like enacting a beekeeping ordinance would benefit the entire city in the event other property owners become involved in beekeeping activities.  We do not discount the medicinal and natural benefits of honeybees, however, in this case, the City of Lucedale acted in the best interest of its citizens. 

"I have spoken with some attorneys, and they are willing to fight to help me keep my bees where they are," Hobby said.

She says she hopes things don't have to go that far. She just wants to be able to keep her bees.

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