FAQ/ASK

Some frequently asked questions.?? Also please send in your input, suggestions, questions on bees to the MBA web committee, or Zachary Huang.

Simply leave a “comment” here.

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FAQ:

1. Do I need to register for my bees before I start beekeeping?

Answer: No, Michigan has no inspection program and registration is not required.  You are encouraged to join the Michigan Beekeepers Association or a local club to learn more about beekeeping.

2. Does Michigan provide an inspection program?

Answer: No. We used to have one.  Michigan no longer has a regular inspection program.  However, if you move your bees out of the state, you may be required to provide a certificate showing the bees are healthy.  This kind of inspections are handled by Mike Hansen, the State Apiarist of Michigan.  His phone number and email are in the “Officer” section of this web.

3. I have bees living inside the drywalls and I do not want them. I have called a few exterminators and was told honey bees are protected and they could not legally kill them. Is this true?

Answer: No. There is no law in Michigan, or in any state, to prevent the home owner from removing/killing the honey bees, if they are a nuisance.  Typically I would let them alone unless someone in the family is severely allergic to honey bee stings.  If you really want them to be removed, find a local beekeeper, and pay him/her to do the removal.  Unless it is a swarm, almost no one will do it for free because it requires extensive work to remove bees.

4. I live in the UP, and noticed small holes in sandy areas of our yard. Today I noticed what I think are bees sticking their heads in and out. I’m wondering what kinds of bees these could be.

Many types of bees nest in the ground. The most common ones are sweat bees and digger bees.  For more info, visit http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2143.html

5. We have a nest of honey bees inside the drywall, can we simply spray into the nest to kill them?

Answer: No. Unfortunately, the only way to get rid of bees inside your walls would be take the walls apart (at least the sidings, etc), expose the nest, then remove the bees by relocating them or kill them using a pesticide.  It is not enough to kill them with a pesticide without removing the nest.  Because the honey left behind will attract other bugs.  In addition, honey and wax will melt inside the wall during summer, creating a mess inside your house.  This is because live bees regulate temperature at 95 F, so honey and wax never melt when live bees are in there.
Try to call an exterminator and ask if they would remove the siding to get into the nest (remove all the honey, vacuum up all the bees etc).  DO NOT allow them to simply kill the bees inside without doing anything to the nest.  It is possible to kill the bees using a dust formulated insecticide, wait until they die, then open the walls to remove the nest (all honey would be contaminated, so do not use for human consumption or feed to bees).
Trapping does not work very but can be tried if it is difficult to take the walls apart. This publication has details on trapping with a diagram: http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2079.html

6. How many hives are required on our property so that it can be taxed as “agricultural use?”

Mike Hansen answers:

The answer quite simply is that utilizing a property for an agricultural purpose does not cause or require a change in the zoning or taxation of that piece of property.  Zoning and property taxes are a function of local government. Depending on the structure of the local unit of government, a person should be in contact with their zoning administrator, local zoning board, treasurer, or perhaps the township clerk to find out how their community is zoned, and if their community allows for changes in zoning based on a change in use of the property.
Simply increasing the number of honeybee colonies on a property will not support a zoning change. In zoning, the local government looks at a number of variables which could include a township or county master plan, the value of the property for development, the use of neighboring properties, etc.  Such plans are valuable as they prevent spot zoning, and often limit spot development of land identified in the plan for agriculture, recreation, etc.  Agricultural production is generally allowed in most zoning categories, but implementing an agricultural process to force re-zoning of a single property to decrease a tax liability is usually not successful.

As noted above, Zoning a property taxes are a function of the local unit of government. This question comes up quite often at tax time, or as landowners get notice that their local tax tribunal will be holding hearings. I recommend having this discussion with local government at a time of year when they don’t have a line of property owners at their door.

An attorney answers:

I trust the following is a good beginning point.  Back in 2003, I used, among other items, the following to win an appeal at the Michigan Tax Tribunal (obviously the cites and quotes would have to be checked and up dated):
Qualified agricultural property is defined by MCLA Section 211.7dd and states in pertinent part:

(d) ”Qualified agricultural property” means unoccupied property and related buildings classified as agricultural, or other unoccupied property and related buildings located on that property devoted primarily to agricultural use as defined in section 36101 of the natural resources and environmental protection act, 1994 PA 451, MCL 324.36101.  Related buildings include a residence occupied by a person employed in or actively involved in the agricultural use …

and MCL 324.36101 defines agricultural use:

(b)? “Agricultural use” means the production of plants and animals useful to humans, including forages and crops; grains, feed crops, and field crops; dairy and dairy products; poultry and poultry products; livestock, including breeding and grazing of cattle, swine, captive cervidae, and similar animals; berries; herbs; flowers, seeds; grasses; nursery stock, fruits, vegetables, Christmas trees; and other similar uses and activities.  Agricultural use includes use in a federal acreage set-aside program or a federal conservation reserve program. …

MCLA Section 211.34c. states in pertinent part:

(1)? Not later than the first Monday in March in each year, the assessor shall classify every item of assessable property according to the definitions contained in this section. …

(2) The classifications of assessable real property are described as follows:

(a) Agricultural real property includes parcels usedfor agricultural operations, with or without buildings … . As used in this subdivision, “agricultural operations” means the following

(i) Farming in all its branches, including cultivating soil.
(ii) Growing and harvesting any agricultural, horticultural, or floricultural commodity.

(iii)Dairying.

(iv) Raising livestock, bees, fish, fur-bearing animals, or poultry.

(v) Turf and tree farming.
(vi) Performing any practices on a farm incident to, or in conjunction with, farming operations. . . .

MCLA Section 211.7dd states:

A parcel of property is devoted primarily to agricultural use … if more than 50% of the parcel’s acreage is devoted to agricultural use.

204 comments to FAQ/ASK

  • Inger Griffin

    Hi, I was wondering if you know of any one that does school programs for learning about bees. We have a Green Team at St Michael’s in Livonia and I would love to have some one come in next fall to talk about bees and their importance to our ecosystem.

  • Stephen Tilmann

    Inger,
    There are a number of beekeepers and beekeeping clubs in your area that would be happy to help. The first place to contact is the SEMBA (South East Michigan Beekeepers Association). Contact is Clay Ottoni at email ceottoni@gmail.com. SEMBA’s web site is http://www.sembabees.org. Other bee clubs in your area can be found on the MBA web site at http://www.michiganbees.org/about/clubs/.

  • Gary Ester

    Hi,I will be starting my very first hive in the next week or so. The question I have is controlling Mites,Broodfoul, and any other problem I may have.
    I have read control methods with and without the use of chemicals.(powdered sugar for mites is an example)
    Were can I get reliable information on how to control pests and disease if they occur? Natural control or through the use of medication or chemicals.
    I would rather go natural,But there is way to many home remedies on the web and would just like some professional guidance.
    Thank You.

  • Stephen Tilmann

    Hi Gary,
    You are about to embark on a remarkable journey. Disease and pest management in a bee hive should be a major concern. We agree that there are a lot of opinions out there and a lot of stuff shows up on the web that is questionable, at best. While foulbrood, nosema and a host of other pathogens are not good, the true concern lies in the varroa mite. This critter is responsible for “x” percent of the problems we are seeing with honey bees (you supply the value… 75, 80, 90?). There are more and more choices available to deal with the varroa mite these days, ranging from hard chemicals to more “natural” ways. Your choice will be driven by your comfort level. There is no one perfect solution. You are wide to question what you see on the web.

    If possible, we would recommend you hook up with your nearest bee club (see the MBA web site for a list). Management techniques are almost also a topic at the meetings and you can meet and talk to other beekeepers. Also, if you can, find a mentor.

    We would also suggest that you take a good look at “IPM” methods (integrated pest management). With IPM, chemicals are tools in the arsenal but only when appropriate and only when called for. Before you bring on the chemicals, there are several management techniques that you should be doing: mite level monitoring, sugar dusting, drone brood trapping, using local survivor stock and brood cycle interruption… to name a few. Subscribe to a bee journal or two (American Bee Journal and/or Bee Culture). Your MBA membership entitles you to a discount for the journal. These magazines will contain sound information.

    Going “natural” is the goals of most, if not all, beekeepers. Depending on the situation, some are able to implement “going natural” easier than others. There is a price a price that will be paid for going “natural”, meaning that you may experience higher mortality. But then again, there is a price that is paid by using a chemical control regime, as well.

    Good luck!

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