Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To Bee or Not to Bee

OK, yes, that was lame. But it does kind of sum up the exploration I've undertaken over the last several months. I've been reading a lot about honeybees and beekeeping. It's hard to resist such an interesting undertaking and I'm still weighing different options. But it's seriously looking like we're going to become beekeepers along with a friend of ours. Ironically, just as I was deciding to go ahead and put a hive or two in our back yard, the Co-conspirator brought my attention to a news story about the city council considering an ordinance to expressly allow beekeeping in the city. Up until that point I had found nothing in the code that expressly prohibited it so I thought I'd just go ahead and do it without asking. Unfortunately, the proposed ordinance as it currently stands is a little too restrictive to let us place and maintain our hives as I was planning to. It was also around this time, I think, that I mentioned my beekeeping fantasies to a good friend of ours who also happens to be an entomologist. As luck would have it he's also interested in starting up and has connections to rural opportunities to place our hives. Problem solved.

It will be interesting to see how the ordinance shapes up. I feel it's kind of a cop-out to just go outside the city to avoid conflict altogether, but one look at the neighborhood list-serve reminds me how "engaged" some of neighbors are. Perhaps in the future when the ordinance is settled and we've got some big, healthy hives going we'll move some into town. For now we're going to just work on getting better educated and better connected to experienced beekeepers. We attended this month's meeting of the local beekeeping association and they seem like a friendly and knowledgeable bunch. I was relieved to find out we weren't the only "no-bees" at the meeting. So there's the big winter project. Stay tuned as the adventure unfolds!

2 Responses:

Mil said...

Hi Mark,
Fortuitous timing on your part. Better to wait it out until the city figures out what they're doing. You don't want to spend the money only to find out you can't have 'em.

That almost happened to us. We contacted the city YEARS before we got our bees. In our second year, we get a notice from the city informing us we have to limit our number of hives to one and that there was a height (!) limit.

Luckily, it turned out well after we talked to the city. It turned out they never had an ordinance and hastily threw one together as a response to complaints from neighbors.

We enlisted help from our beekeeping teacher who explained and convinced the city official of the importance of bees, so it's good to find mentors and allies. I think you are going the smart route by learning all you can.

Shady Character said...

I don't feel knowledgeable at this point to get too involved in the nuts and bolts of creating the ordinance, but I do support the local beekeepers in trying to shape it for the best outcome for all. If I understand correctly, some of it is being based on what's easily enforced vs. a good understanding of bee behavior and biology. For example, setbacks are for all sides of the hive, not just the front and there is a number/volume limitation that might not be the best for winter hive survival. It's frankly all very interesting and I think I've chosen exactly the right moment to get on board the bee train!