Urban beekeeping gets nod from Edmonton council

Backyard beekeepers in Edmonton win approval from city council following a pilot project.

'Honeybees are interested in nectar, pollen and that's about it'

Jocelyn Crocker and Mike Hamilton check the health of their backyard beehive. (CBC)

When Mike Hamilton and Jocelyn Crocker approached their neighbours with their plan last summer, they knew it wasn't going to be easy.

"That was a difficult conversation to have," he said.

The couple wanted to house bees in their backyard, hundreds and hundreds of bees.  

The challenge was to convince their neighbours that bees were not the pests that make patio life difficult during Edmonton summers, crawling into sugary drinks, dive-bombing grilled meat and daring anybody to do anything about it.

"The pests you find bothering you in the summertime are usually the yellow jackets or paper wasps," he said.
"We’ve had a 150 visitors to our backyard last year … and nobody was stung," Mike Hamilton says. (CBC)

"Honeybees are interested in nectar, pollen and that's about it," Hamilton said. "Unless you're carrying a bunch of flowers around and you happen to walk into an apiary, then you're pretty safe."

This is the second summer Hamilton and Crocker have tended bees at their Capilano-area home.

The family wanted to improve the yield of their fruit trees. A family friend was an urban beekeeper and they decided to join him.

First, they approached the city   

"The city, in the end, was very receptive to it," Hamilton said. "They were ready for that conversation. Urban agriculture is a hot topic right now."

The city, in fact, was running a project test piloting urban beekeeping and Hamilton and Crocker signed on.

Today the gave the go ahead to prospective beekeepers around the city.  

As for Hamilton's neighbours?

"We ended up developing stronger bonds with our neighbours," Hamilton said. "It was something interesting, they wanted to come see it and we got talking about it.

"And now when we see them, they say, 'Hey! How are your bees? How's it going?' And we can share the product of that which is the other benefit."

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