Arvada HOA approves backyard bees, then backs off its decision

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ARVADA, Colo. -- Coloradans love nature, right? One Arvada family says they thought that was true when their Homeowners Association approved their backyard beekeeping, but now the HOA is doing an about-face.

"Honeybees are very docile. They're not aggressive," said Jacob Paulsen, demonstrating as he lifted the top off his small bee hive. "You can stand right next to a bee hive, and if you’re not in there messing with them they’re going to leave you alone."

"So there are the girls," he said with a smile. "I love bees. Backyard beekeeping is huge now."

He calls them the "Paulsen Pollinators," and the honeybees have been part of his family for more than four years.

So in 2016, before he even made an offer on a home in Arvada's Whisper Creek neighborhood, he got it in writing that the HOA would also welcome the Paulsen Pollinators. The property manager replied that the Board had discussed, and "they would be ok with bees."

"We would not have bought the house if we had known this was going to be a conflict. For us, beekeeping is part of our identity. It's part of who we are," said Paulsen, who said for two years his family's bees have been pollinating the neighborhood and making sweet honey.

But that all came to an end this year, after the HOA board told him an anonymous neighbor had complained, so first, they cited him for "commercial sales." When he explained he doesn't sell his honey, the board said the citation should have been for "raising insects," which is against the covenants.

In a letter, the board demanded he remove his bees, and while an attorney told him he had a court case he could win, the battle would cost thousands of dollars.

"Instead of it, we're going to pursue selling the home and move out of the HOA," said Paulsen.

In a state that claims to be nature-friendly and with colony collapse disorder still a concern, some beekeepers are asking, should HOA's be allowed to ban bees?

The Whisper Creek HOA Board has not respond to Denver7 requests for comment. While Arvada has beekeeping-friendly laws, HOAs are allowed to ban it.

"I think looking at legislation to protect the consumer's right to have bees is something at least worth considering," said Paulsen. "It is what it is. This is a really horrible situation, but I don't really have any options."

For now, the Paulsen Pollinators are at a friend's house a few miles away where the HOA allows them, still pollinating the flowers in Whisper Creek's backyards.

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