MONTEBELLO, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Rockland County man wound up with a bumper crop of trouble after being ticketed for trying to keep bees and grow blueberries.
As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported Tuesday, Zev Oster is using two hives of honeybees to pollinate a bunch of blueberry plants.
“We’re not growing marijuana here. They’re just bees,” Oster said.
But so far the only thing he’s harvested on the old horse pasture he bought in January are violations from the Village of Montebello.
“I thought it’s crazy and it’s a little excessive, you know,” he said.
Oster’s need for bees grew from his love of blueberries. He wants the land to be a place for people to pick their own.
Oster has 250 blueberry plants in the backyard of his home in nearby Monsey. He brought 50 of them to the horse pasture and one day hopes to have 1,000 plants on the lot.
The village, however, said the plan sounds like a commercial farm operation, which would require a permit. It also said beekeeping is banned in residential neighborhoods.
An online petition as of Tuesday night had 569 signatures urging the Village of Montebello to let Oster be.
One neighbor said Oster has to follow the rules.
“He has maybe an acre. To be a farmer here, he has to have 10 acres,” said Heide Farrar.
But Oster’s attorney said his client is within his rights.
“He hasn’t sought any tax benefits as a farm,” said Oster’s attorney, Ryan Karben. “He’s growing bushes and maintaining his bees. I think it’s well within what somebody can do with a vacant residential lot.”
With so much concern over the collapse of bee populations, some neighbors welcome the little pollinators.
“There are bees that pollinate every single plant and ever single flower around here,” said Joshua Rose.
“They’re there for nature and we need them. We definitely need them,” said Oster.
Oster has a court date on Wednesday in this battle over blueberries and bees.