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Resident: No Need to Legislate Beekeeping

The city has never required beekeeping permits before, so why start now?

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s necessary for me to write this article.  At the June 18, 2012, St. Louis Park City Council meeting, council members to the Wildlife Feeding Ordinance list of prohibited animals. Animals on this list include: skunks, lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, bobcats, lynx, cougars, ocelots, wolves, foxes, coyotes, dingoes, jackals, wolf/dogs, coyote/dogs, venomous snakes and raccoons.

And now bee colonies? Really? I mean seriously, how did this happen? And why are we even having this discussion? I’m pretty sure that honeybees are actually domesticated (believe it or not), and they are insects, not wild animals. They are good for the environment; they pollinate our flowers, fruits and vegetables; and they are under serious threat from colony collapse disorder. Urban beekeeping is becoming increasingly accepted throughout the country—from Minneapolis and St. Paul to New York, cities are adopting reasonable ordinances in order to promote beekeeping for the benefit of the environment. 

I understand that many people fear being stung, and a small number of people are allergic. According to the Mayo Clinic, about 3 percent of the population may be allergic to insect stings. That’s unfortunate, but beekeeping or no, there are wild bees, wasps and hornets outside (not to mention biting flies, and disease carrying ticks and mosquitoes). That’s the world we live in. Among the stinging insects, honeybees are clearly the least offensive. Yes they sting, but only when seriously threatened. Unfortunately, they are often confused with yellow jackets—the aggressive, shiny, yellow and black striped wasps that often show up at picnics in August and September. To the contrary, honeybees are quite docile.

I’m certain there have been beekeepers in St. Louis Park for as long as the city has been in existence. Until now, we’ve never had an ordinance regarding beekeeping, and to my knowledge, have never had a problem. Why start now? Since learning about this proposed ordinance change, I have spoken with friends and neighbors throughout the city, and have yet to come across anyone who is in favor of prohibiting beekeeping in the Park. If there has been a recent neighbor dispute over bees, one complaint does not necessitate legislation. 

I don’t think beekeeping should require an ordinance, a permit, or a fee, but I am all in favor of respecting my neighbors. I’ve been keeping a single colony on my property for the past four years, without incident. The entrance of my beehive faces my property, and when bees fly out of the hive to forage, they fly out over the rooftops of my neighbor’s houses. I would guess that there aren’t more than a handful of beekeepers in the Park. We are good environmental stewards and good neighbors. Our bees pollinate the flowers of St. Louis Park, and when we have honey, we generally share it. Members of the City Council, please don’t let fear or personal biases interfere with your ability to be objective in ruling on this issue.

 

Laura Olevitch

St. Louis Park

Peter Kapinos July 24, 2012 at 02:51 PM
SLP has some of the oddest restrictions on animal keeping ever. Are we to keep out all stinging creatures because we enact this? "Bees, wasps and hornets! Do not come to SLP. We have a law!" I wish I could keep chickens and for some reason chickens are illegal. Did not people keep chickens just so many years ago? Minnetonka allows chickens.
Gretchen Peterson July 24, 2012 at 05:45 PM
I'm in the 3% that's allergic to bee stings - and I do NOT see this sense in this!! I would also like to keep chickens, and cannot believe council members like Sue Santa are so blatantly rude, ill-informed, and nasty about a well-accepted practice that has been sweeping the country. Since when does SLP go BACKWARDS in our policies and procedures?! One of the things that made me want to live in The Park is our progressive history and model of governance. Good grief.
Rob July 24, 2012 at 07:09 PM
It seems like there is some conservative trend to the regulations in SLP. Proposals like this and the existing 60/40 liquor law seem unnecessary and stifling.
Michael Rose (Editor) July 24, 2012 at 07:52 PM
Rob, the liquor ordinance in SLP requires a 50/50 split between food and booze sales, not 60/40. You may be thinking of Edina, which does have the 60/40 split.
Lisa Fisher Franklin July 24, 2012 at 10:10 PM
We've kept bees in SLP for a few years now, and none of the neighbors complain. No one would even know they are here if we did not tell them. A law banning beekeeping or even creating a permit process is a ridiculous waste of taxpayer money, since honeybees travel up to three miles, some scientists even say 8-10 miles while foraging. And by the time honeybees are 5 feet from the hive, they are 15 ft or higher in the air. So unless the hive is placed right on a neighbor's property line, it should not be a problem. Honeybees ARE domesticated, and have been as far back as ancient Egypt, possibly earlier. They are not aggressive like wasps, as honeybees die after stinging. We've noticed a decrease in the number of wasps nesting in the eaves & walls on our property since the honeybees moved in. Given the state of colony collapse & recent inquiry into a possible link to the use of pesticides in commercial farming make "leaving bees in the countryside" a dangerous option for the bees. Urban beekeeping might just be what keeps our pollinator populations healthy.
Barry Mayer June 03, 2013 at 02:34 PM
Urban suburban beekeeping should be encouraged not banned. http://responsibility-project.libertymutual.com/blog/the-buzz-on-beekeeping?src=keyword_s=msn_k=beekeeping_c=Responsibility_g=Beekeeping_Beekeeping_m=p&mkwid=f2UGwaGH|pcrid|635738908|pkw|beekeeping|pmt|p|#fbid=NhBmE-XjU6f&src=keyword_s

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