Property Rights

None of Your Beeswax!

According to Utah Administrative Code R68-1, “Every owner or person coming into possession of one or more colonies of bees within the State of Utah shall register with the Department of Agriculture and Food…”

The code provides further regulation, including the requirement that each “apiary location” (a place where bees are kept) be identified by a sign showing the owner’s registration number. Other regulations require the beekeeper’s assistance to “the department” or county bee inspectors in locating the apiaries, and detail how salvage operations are to be performed for diseased colonies.

The application for a beekeeper’s registration apparently also constitutes an application for a beekeeper’s license.  This seems a little confusing since the code does not state that a beekeeper must be licensed by the state in the first place.

In addition to state regulations, the counties are involved and employ bee inspectors, and cities enforce their own ordinances related to bee keeping.  They regulate where bees may be kept, how many hives may exist on certain types of property, etc.

Government at every level is violating private property rights.  Government should exist to protect our right to life, liberty and property, but as is the case with much of what government actually does, these regulations are unwarranted and not based on the fundamental principles of freedom, liberty, and private property rights.

The federal government encroaches on our rights at unprecedented levels.  Over the past two centuries Americans have witnessed a steady march away from individual liberty and personal responsibility, and toward an ever-growing government that is now involved in their lives in every way imaginable (and then some). As bad as this is, we can’t expect to rein in the federal government if we can’t do the same at the local and state levels.

Utahns do not need a nanny state to regulate and control what they do on their private property.  Utahns do not need more taxes, more politicians and more bureaucrats at every level, protecting them from themselves.

We urge Utahns to petition their governments at the local and state level to adopt policies that favor liberty, and to leave bee keepers alone.

  • John

    I keep bees on my property, and I am wondering if the author has any advice on how to get my bees to respect my neighbor’s private property rights?

    • Jeremy Lyman

      John, I’ve never kept bees and I can’t answer your question.  But if your bees are legitimately infringing on your neighbor’s rights, then you should probably solve the problem or get rid of the bees.  If you don’t, then your neighbor would probably be justified in getting rid of them for you.  My guess is that you can work things out and remain neighborly.  In any case, government need not be involved.

  • Chase

    I also have bees and more than qualified exemption of 1 hive and so I certainly am concerned with this issue as well. I don’t have a license and I find it laughable to thing that the state things I ought to have one. But I have an honest question: What if my neighbors had a good source of water in their backyard that my bees really liked. So my neighbors ended up with my bees frequently in their backyard. Then their child gets stung multiple times, has an allergic reaction and has to be taken to the hospital. Am I still within my property rights and therefor am not responsible for this or obligated to remedy the problem? Or since my bees obviously don’t respect the property boundaries, then am I responsible? 
    I think this is relevant since this is the argument that the government, or those supporting regulation are going to use. But what is a community to do when the things I do on my property adversely affect my neighbors? At what point should my personal property rights be trumped by community needs? 
    This is my constant internal battle with libertarianism. I love property rights and I frequently feel the pressure of others trying to restrict what I can do on my property. However I also see that there are things that someone can do on their property, that leave their property and therefor are not their right. If you dump pollutants on your property, they will get into the ground water and effect those not on your property. If you create a lot of noise on your property, it will cross your legal boundary and cause a nuisance to neighbors. And if rich nations dump pollutants into the air, garbage into the oceans, causing changes in climate or destruction to environment to the detriment of other nations, then haven’t they too exceeded their property rights?

    • Jeremy Lyman

      Chase, you bring up a good question.  The issue would be between you and your neighbor.  Generally speaking, your neighbors have the right to protect themselves and their families.  If your bees were actually stinging them on a regular basis, then they would probably be justified in killing the bees whenever they crossed to their property and maybe even in trying to kill them on your property.  Hopefully you could work it out in a neighborly fashion.  I understand your point in suggesting that this issue is one that would be used by those that support regulation, but licensing and regulating certainly can’t stop a bee from flying over and stinging a neighbor, can it?  It’s kind of like creating a gun-free zone.  Criminals don’t obey laws, and neither do bees.Besides, if anyone believes that they are justified in authorizing government to restrict the number of hives their neighbor can have, then they should believe that they personally have the right to restict their neighbor.  No man can authorize government with a power that he himself does not have.By the way, all of your thoughts and questions in the last paragraph are good.  Those are property rights issues that are to be resolved, but not by government.