VIDEO: Indigo Run board orders beekeepers' hive to buzz off

tbarton@islandpacket.comJuly 30, 2012 

Bedros "Pete" Markarian is shown here Monday evening behind his Indigo Run home next to his beehive on Hilton Head Island. A neighbor's complaint to the general manager of Indigo Run plantation has resulted in a request for the removal of the beehive.

SARAH WELLIVER

Hilton Head Island resident Bedros "Pete" Markarian has been around bees most of his life -- his father kept a hive in the middle of the family's garden in New York to help pollinate his plants.

"It was just part of the house, like having a dog," Markarian said.

Markarian followed in his dad's footsteps, installing a beehive in his garden in Indigo Run.

Now, five years later, the gated community's board of directors has declared the hive a nuisance and ordered it removed.

Markarian said the request was made by Indigo Run general manager Brad Phillips, based on a single complaint.

Markarian appealed to Indigo Run's board of directors, which, despite his plea, determined his beehive "is not in compliance with the governing documents" and was ordered to remove it within 15 days, according to a letter dated July 20.

Markarian said doing so will "remove a legion of pollinators who promote flowers and gardens to flourish," calling it "an act of foolishness and folly."

Attempts Monday to reach Phillips were unsuccessful.

Board president Charles Gobrecht said a neighbor asked to have the beehive removed, believing it created "a dangerous situation." The board agreed, according to Gobrecht.

"Bees swarm. That's really what the concern is," he said. The swarm "may grow tired of the hive and move to another location."

Indigo Run covenants do not address beehives, but the community's rules and regulations do, Gobrecht said. He could not, however, specify which rule or regulation Markarian had violated.

The July 20 letter does not specify which "governing documents" Markarian should comply with or what they stipulate.

Gobrecht was not aware of anyone being stung by the bees -- except Markarian -- or having complained about them in the past.

Markarian said he is astonished a single hive of European honey bees could create such "a hubbub."

Mike Hood, professor of entomology at Clemson University, is also at a loss. Hood, who has written extensively on honey bees, said Markarian's colony is harmless.

"European bees are very docile," he said by phone Monday. "There's no reason for anyone to get alarmed. ... The bees, typically, keep to themselves and shouldn't be a problem for neighboring homeowners."

Though Markarian's hive may contain 40,000 bees, "maybe 10 to 15 percent are foragers," Hood said.

And even then, not all are out at one time -- or looking to sting someone, he said.

"Foraging bees are not aggressive. They won't bother anyone, unless they're disturbed or provoked," Hood said, adding it's fairly common for people to keep bees in residential areas.

"Honeybees are the most beneficial insect because of the pollination work they do," he said. "Anyone with a garden nearby is actually benefiting from these bees."

Markarian hopes the Indigo Run Community Owners Association board will reconsider. But should push come to shove, he says he has a friend willing to find a good home for the bees.

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