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Council Likely to Allow, Regulate Beekeeping

Currently, St. Louis Park city code is mum on the issue.

Beekeeping in St. Louis Park will likely remain a legal hobby, but don't be surprised if new regulations are added.

The St. Louis Park City Council discussed the issue Monday during a study session, and most members said they'd like to see beekeeping continue to be allowed in the city. Currently, the practice is OK by default, because city code is mum on residential beekeeping.

However, council member Sue Sanger and Mayor Jeff Jacobs were less supportive.

“I’d like to prevent problems rather than let them fester and become complaints," Sanger said. "I don’t want to authorize adding even more (bees).”

The issue , prompted by a resident who had lodged a complaint about being stung by bees from a neighbor's backyard hive. At the time, city staff proposed that council simply ban residential beekeeping as part of a larger wildlife ordinance. But council members decided to discuss beekeeping separately.

While nearby Edina, Golden Valley and Plymouth ban the practice, other area cities, such as Minneapolis, allow residential beekeeping but also regulate and license the hobby.

St. Louis Park could take this path. At Monday's meeting, staff presented the rough outline of a regulating ordinance. It would require that beekeepers present proof that they've completed an accredited beekeeping program.

A hive would also have to be at least 25 feet from a property line, or 10 feet with an artificial flyway barrier. And beekeeping would not be allowed in front yards, or at apartments and other multi-family residences.

Councilman Jake Spano, who said his preference would be to simply allow beekeeping with no caveats, said he'd be OK with some regulations if they weren't too restrictive. He added that he didn't want to see the city overreact to one resident's complaint.

“The response should be proportionate to the problem,” he said.

Mayor Jacobs, who said he'd prefer an outright ban, also said he'd be OK with regulations. He added that he wanted to be extra careful to not have hives near parks and other areas where kids play.

“If we’re going to (allow beekeeping), we better have some regulations out there,” Jacobs said.

The issue will come back before council at a later meeting.

greg silverman August 30, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Wise decision on the city's part. However, it is quite disturbing to see that neighboring cities actually have banned beekeeping. Bees are harmless if left alone.
David Moechnig August 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM
It's not like bees don't live in the wild within city limits. I've caught 4 swarms in residential areas of towns with ordinances that prohibit beekeeping. There is also bumblebee, yellowjacket, and wasps that are more likely the stinging culprit, NOT a honeybee.
Emily B August 30, 2012 at 03:30 PM
I'm curious if Mayor Jacobs would also like to ban picnics in all SLP public areas, maybe even private backyards, because we all know that open soda containers and meat attract much more aggressive stingers like yellowjackets (which are actually wasps) and we sure wouldn't want those in "parks and other areas where kids play." I really wish politicians took more time to understand the science of "bees" and weren't so out of touch with who actually does the majority of stinging out there.
Rita A. August 31, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Not to me they aren't. I have a deadly serious bee alllergy, have been hospitalized and have come close to being intubated. I am an avid gardener, so I am mindful and catious when I garden and it is a risk I choose to take. I always have an epipen near by. However, I a bee hive next door greatly inceases my risk of dying - something I am not willing to do for someone else' s hobby.
Jimmy Jones August 31, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I don't have any problems with beekeeping. Regulation is needed though. For example my neighbor decided to set up a hive 5 feet from my property line, without even speaking to me first. I'm sorry but that's just too close, especially considering how large their backyard is. Now any time I need to work on my yard in that area, the bees will constantly harass me until I move away. Without regulation I'd say ban it outright - with regulation it can stay.
Nancy August 31, 2012 at 03:47 PM
I agree with Rita. Why should she give up her basically harmless hobby (gardening) for the sake of someone's risky hobby (beekeeping)? I am also a gardener and while I do not have a known bee allergy, and I can appreciate what bees do for flowers and vegetables, I have been stung while working in my garden. My neighbors keep bees very close to our property line. My dad used to keep bees. Why did he stop? He was attacked by those cute little things. Honeybees do sting if they are "bothered" in any way. They don't seem too happy with me when I am weeding and trimming flowers because I am in their way, buzzing around my head until I run away. Bees can't be kept on a leash like a dog, so I definitely say regulation is needed. Otherwise it is just not fair to the rest of us.
Emily B August 31, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Nancy, I'd like to ask then, if I view other people's "harmless" use of garden (or lawn) pesticides and fertilizers as actually "risky" to my health, the health of my family, my pets and other living creatures, shall we go ahead and move toward a ban on those? Because it is well known that the toxic chemicals people opt to use don't just stay on their property (ever smelled the air, reeking of something like chlorine, after someone in the neighborhood gets a "lawn treatment"? Or maybe check out the contamination in our lakes?). How about if I view your "hobby" of landscaping and yard maintenance as a nuisance and risky because you use a gas lawn mower or leaf blower and that has the potential to damage my hearing, not to mention the toxic fumes we all have to breath while you do it, or the potential for serious danger to children for amputation by the sharp spinning blades. Maybe we should regulate those too because last time I checked, there are a lot more lawn mowers out there than bee hives. Maybe say, you can only mow with a gas mower within 10 feet of the property line?
Emily B August 31, 2012 at 04:14 PM
So, I hate to be argumentative here (and I’m mostly speaking tongue-in-cheek), but your risk assessment isn't exactly fair. I understand that Rita has a life threatening allergy, but it is very rare that honeybees attack people (there are tons of wild ones out there, otherwise we wouldn't have any tomatoes, zucchinis, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, etc). I’m not saying there shouldn’t be rules, a backyard full of hives probably isn’t a good idea, but there is so much fear these days about everything having to do with urban ag/animals and we all need to take a step back, assess our own risks and learn how to be better neighbors instead of ones that just assume the worst.
Nancy August 31, 2012 at 04:34 PM
Who says gardening equates to using pesticides and fertilizers? I don't use them! Maybe some used coffee grounds and grass clippings now and then. Lawnmowers? Anyone with a yard needs to use one. People don't need to keep bees. Keep your bees on a leash. Can't be done? Then regulate it, and be respectful of neighbors living near the hives, that's all I am saying.
Jimmy Jones August 31, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Urban ag? Its called farming, and last I checked thats not what the burbs are for.
Nancy August 31, 2012 at 04:58 PM
The city requires me to obtain a permit to have a recreational fire in my back yard, and it mustn't be within 10 feet of the property line. But I don't need one to keep bees, and I can put those bees right on the property line if I want, with no limitations on quantity, size, or height, and no requirements for shielding/protection, water source for the bees, notifying neighbors in advance, or anything else related to good beekeeping practice.
Emily B August 31, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Nancy, I didn't say you use fertilizers and pesticides, but LOTS of people do. We've been made to believe we need them and its what keeps the fine folks at Scotts MiracleGro and TruGreen in business. And you're right, you do need a mower to attain the regulated 6 inch (or less) grass in SLP, however you don't need a gas lawnmower. It can be done with a human powered push mower, which is completely quiet and creates no air pollution. That said, if someone would rather jump through the hoops of applying to grow a native perennial lawn, they wouldn't have to have a lawn mower, but most just prefer the neat suburbia look. As for bees, I don't keep them, but there are people who do believe we need to keep them because the ones in the wild and many commercial hives are struggling. Bees are dying en masse and many people don't think that is a big deal except for the fact that it is. Bees generate millions of dollars of revenue in this state and country with the services they provide. Maybe a few urban hives here and there won't save agriculture, but it is part of a larger system that is in trouble and needs help.
Emily B August 31, 2012 at 05:20 PM
I'm not opposed to some rules, I just think they need to be in proportion to the actual considerations/concerns, not based on the "fear factor" (particularly when people get honeybees and wasps confused because they are entirely different). Yes, some people are allergic, but I don't think most people are, so we need to be careful about making the decision based on the facts and not a few strong opinions.
Joe September 08, 2012 at 04:52 PM
It is interesting how a bee complaint has spiraled into a discussion of outright prohibition. Seems to be ignorance and panic at its best, fear mongering at its worst. Jimmy, your neighbor should have spoken with you; however, let me assuage your fears. Honeybees won't harass you unless you violate their hive. As for Rita, it's the honeybees and butterflies that provide bloom and color for your garden. As a gardener, you should know that. A neighbor's hive will not create any more a threat to your hobby. Let's do some research about honeybees before we panic and make decisions we will ultimately regret.

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