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.
St. Louis Park