Friday, April 17, 2009

U.S. City May Approve Urban Beekeeping

Buzz at Minneapolis City Hall Favors Ending 34-Year Beekeeping Ban
By Jim Gehrz, Star Tribune (USA), 4/15/2009

To bee or not to bee?

It's looking like the former, with a proposal to legalize beekeeping in Minneapolis advancing unanimously at City Hall on Wednesday.

City gardeners and hobbyists with cases of hives already showed up at a City Council committee to argue for a proposal by Council Member Diane Hofstede that would set the requirements for keeping bees in the city after a 34-year ban.

St. Paul has allowed beekeeping for decades, and the League of Minnesota Cities reports more cities are getting inquiries from residents.

"They're extremely important little creatures," University of Minnesota entomology Prof. Marla Spivak, whose research specialty is honey bees, told the council. Advocates listed benefits ranging from better pollination of gardens and fruit trees to the sweet reward of honey.

She and other supporters had to deal with a few common misconceptions to reassure the council's regulatory committee.

"They truly are docile -- beyond gentle," Nicollet Island resident Peat Willcutt said. Even swarms that occur when a colony of bees divides are relatively calm, Spivak said.

But the proposed ordinance includes a few safeguards designed to keep the neighbors calm, too. Consent from all abutting property owners would be required, plus 80 percent of owners within 100 feet of the keeper's lot. The bee area would have to be fenced, with flyways devised with barriers to get bees to altitude quickly when the hive is near a property line. Keepers would be required to get some schooling and a city permit of $100 initially and $50 annually…

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