Agriculture experts fear it could force a rise in food prices because bees are responsible for the pollination of about $170 billion of crops worldwide, according to media reports.
Urban hives are being installed across the metro area, from restaurants in Cobb and atop the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta, to corporate facilities for Chick-fil-A, AT&T and Georgia Power. Decatur became a "bee city," areas where bees are given "sanctuary," back in 2016, and several beekeeping clubs in metro Atlanta are working together to educate residents about the need to increase the bee population.
Gerri Yoder, director of Henry County Animal Care & Control, said the ordinance is directed toward hobbyists, who would be limited to two hives. It was proposed because of growing interest from millennials and others in sustainable and fresh foods.
“Our ordinance is pretty much a clone of everybody else’s ordinance that has backyard bees,” Yoder said.
Commission officials considered amending the ordinance to restrict the hives to one-half acre residential lots, but Johnny Wilson, who voted yes to the proposal, said that change wouldn’t make much of a difference. Bees travel as much as four or five miles, but always come back to their hives.
Commissioner Dee Clemmons, who voted against the measure, was not persuaded.
“Although I understand people collect bees as a hobby, you can’t stop them from roaming into other people’s neighborhood.” she said. “And your neighbors could have children who have an allergic reaction to bees. Bees do wander off to look for water. I don’t know how you keep them from coming to the neighbors house to get that. “