Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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July 23, 2013

To bee, or not to bee?

Miami County man under fire from neighbors

MACY — From his perspective, George Ruble made a huge change for the better when he left Chicago Heights and moved to this bucolic little northern Miami County town.

Home to basketball star Ruth Riley, there’s not much to the town of about 206, 2 miles off U.S. 31.

Ruble has 3 acres, on which he tends a very tidy orchard/garden operation, growing produce for the farmer’s market in Wabash, and generally enjoying country life.

Back in Chicagoland, Ruble recalls a rival gang opening up with heavy weaponry on a house across the street. In Macy, he found neighbors willing to help him clear trees and brush off his property. He’s found a home he loves.

Even so, there’s been trouble in paradise. His beehives, the source of the pollen that keeps his farm bearing plentifully, are causing consternation among his nearest neighbors.

The neighbors’ complaints are being aided by a Miami County ordinance, which requires a setback of 500 feet between any beehive and a neighboring residence. It’s an ordinance that appears to be somewhat unique in the area; a small sample survey of zoning ordinances in six different counties — Marion, Tipton, Howard, Cass, White and Fulton — failed to locate any ordinances that address bees and beehives.

“I’m sure it’s because back in the day, [someone] put 100 hives right up next to someone’s residence,” Ruble said of the Miami County ordinance.

Miami County Building Commissioner Brian Engel had no choice but to cite Ruble, once a complaint was made. So to comply, Ruble has moved all but two of his hives (he has about 20) to the southern portion of his property. Once he has queens well-established in the two hives, he’ll move those as well.

But the new hive location poses problems, Ruble said. He has the hives alongside his small apple orchard, meaning he can’t spray the apple trees. It’s extremely difficult to grow apples for market that haven’t been sprayed for bugs, he said. He also can’t access the hives easily.

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