By this time next year you or
your neighbors could have a colony of bees making fresh honey.
The economic development committee discussed the prospect of allowing beekeeping within the city limits at their monthly meeting.
Krysti Barksdale-Noble, the City’s Community Development Director, said staff has looked at several resources for beekeeping, including the state department of agriculture and the cities of Evanston, Ill. and Milwaukee, Wis., which both allow beekeeping with city limits.
“[Milwaukee] has hardly received any complaints at all,” said Barksdale-Noble, who has had their program running since early 2010. She said all beekeepers there were required to have a certificate that says you are competent to raise bees and take a course.
The main issue Yorkville would be facing would be zoning requirements. Barksdale-Noble said one suggestion would be a special use permit, which would have to then go through the Plan Commission, and the other suggestion would be to rezone the area. “Staff is not opposed to either,” she said.
Committee chairman Ken Koch said he grew up on a farm and understood the importance of bees. His concern was with allergies and the standing water in pools, which documents showed can attract bees. “If you put [a colony] in someone’s yard and the child next door is allergic… we need to really monitor how we do this.”
Beekeeping got a strong show of support from alderman Joel Frieders, who himself has multiple colonies of bees.
He also said that there’s a large difference between bees – the kind that would be populating these hives – and bees like the wasp or the “shiny” ones. “They’re not really aggressive unless you’re playing with them,” he said of honeybees. “Honey bees once they sting you they’re dead. They know that just as well as you do.”
He said going forward this would be an educational conversation to have with area residents.
The special permit received the most positive feedback from the board, and some basic guidelines would involve the beekeeper addressing neighbors about the possibility of bees in the area.
“The process is not up to residents, it’s up to members of the Plan Commission,” said Barksdale-Noble, when asked what happened if a neighbor said no to the bees. That neighbor would be given the opportunity to state their concerns and get questions answered.
There is a current proposed $50 permit fee plus a $25 renewal fee each year and the permit would be non-transferable. Those that live on less than one acre of land could have up to two colonies, and anyone living on land larger than an acre could have up to eight colonies.
All beekeeper’s would be required to have a beekeeping license permit. The state of Illinois also inspects beekeeping colonies twice a year to make sure they are up to code and the beekeepers are abiding all laws.
City administrator Bart Olson said staff would make up a draft for the beekeeping with the allowance of a special permit.
TELL US: Would you be opposed to someone beekeeping within your neighborhood?