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Dustin Monke, Published July 31 2013

North Dakota keeping a closer eye on beekeepers

DICKINSON, N.D. – State Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring says there are enough concerns about the business of bees in the state that he has fielded late-night phone calls from landowners concerned about the placement of hives.

“‘Doug, I just want to let you know I’ve got bees right across from me,’” Goehring recalls one McKenzie County farmer telling him over the phone at 10:30 p.m. on a recent Saturday.

Placement of beehives and the regulation of out-of-state beekeepers in North Dakota are among the concerns Goehring believes will have farmers, land-

owners and beekeepers buzzing at the first North Dakota Pollinator Summit, which starts at 1 p.m. today at the Kelly Inn in Bismarck.

“I think that the beekeepers are going to think I’m taking a shot at them. I’m not,” Goehring said. “I’m trying to address this issue because they are guests here.”

The commissioner, who farms near Menoken, said he has heard issues from throughout the nation’s top honey-producing state regarding the placement of beehives and beekeepers who are not registered with the state. Others, he said, are bringing up issues of new bee-

keepers who are not educated about North Dakota laws that regulate them.

Dean Fetch, who owns Fetch Honey and Bees in Dickinson, said he has noticed these issues growing in Stark and Hettinger counties in recent years and plans to attend the summit.

“I don’t know what it is, but there has been a lot of them (out-of-state beekeepers) thinking they can do whatever,” Fetch said.

Goehring said problems such as these have come up in the past, but there was a relative harmony until recently. Many beekeepers come to North Dakota to rest their colonies after pollinating food crops in California, he said.