Edmonton beekeepers hope for bylaw changes to allow city hives

Backyards in Edmonton could be buzzing with bees this summer if the city goes ahead with a proposed bylaw change allowing urban beehives.

City report says with proper monitoring, bees should be allowed

Jocelyn Crocker and Chris Floden of YEGBees hope the city changes its bylaws to allow urban beehives.

Backyards in Edmonton could be buzzing with bees this summer if the city goes ahead with a proposed bylaw change allowing urban beehives.

Under current regulations, it’s illegal to keep beehives in the city. But a pilot project last year allowed three experienced beekeepers to set up hives in their yards.

Chris Floden and Jocelyn Crocker of YEGBees kept a hive in their yard and say they spent much of their time under the pilot project hosting tours to teach people about the industry.

Now they hope the city will approve bylaw changes to allow more urban hives. The issue is on the community services committee agenda for Monday. 

Floden said it’s natural that some people will be worried about getting stung.

“Honey bees are quite docile,” he said. “Some people are allergic to bees, there’s no questions about that. So, those people have to be concerned.

“The nice thing about bees is, they’re not aggressive. They aren’t going after your barbecue, they aren’t going after sweet soft drinks. Those are wasps. If you’re stung more than once by an insect, it’s not a bee, it’s a wasp.”

Good for bees, good for trees

Floden and Crocker said they work with their bees wearing shorts and T-shirts, with coverings over their heads.

Bees spread pollen and a healthy urban bee population is good for fruit trees, they said, adding that urban bee hives will also help protect the bee population from disorders such as colony collapse. 

Floden said scientists aren’t sure what causes the disorder, which has wiped out 30 to 40 per cent of the bee populations in Ontario. 

Last year, the city received more than 35 inquiries relating to the urban bee pilot project. Three residential sites were set up.

Inspections were conducted on all three sites at the beginning and the end of the project, according to a city report. Enforcement staff reported that all three sites successfully complied with all of the provisions of the project.

The Edmonton Beekeeper Association provided support and guidance to the three beekeepers and acted as a resource for animal control officers, the report said.

The city said it received only one citizen complaint as a result of the pilot project.

“The complaint was in relation to the noticeable increase in bees in the area, and attempts were made to minimize the impacts on the complainant,” the report said.

“Even though mitigation attempts were made, the complainant was not satisfied and raised concerns over potentially being stung and the negative impact on backyard flowers and overall yard enjoyment.”

The report said the city researched a number of ways to reduce beehive impacts on neighbours. It also surveyed who lived near the pilot sites, as well as members of the community.

“Overall, the consensus was that as long as conditions and regulations were put in place to monitor and deal with any concerns that arise, beekeeping should be allowed,” the report said.

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