July 18, 2014 5:50 pm

UPDATE: Edmonton seeking out urban beekeepers

Watch above: Edmonton City Council has given the green light to a pilot project that eventually could lead to the legalization of bee hives outside of zoned agricultural lands. Now, they’re looking for residents interested in being bee keepers. Tom sits down with Hani Quan to learn more about the pilot.

EDMONTON – A new pilot project will soon have the city buzzing.

The City of Edmonton is looking for residents interested in applying for its first ever urban beekeeping pilot project.

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Anyone interested in keeping honeybees in their backyard should submit their application on the city’s website.

On July 7, the city decided to implement the urban beekeeping pilot project this year.

READ MORE: Edmonton to implement urban beekeeping pilot project

“It’s not just about making honey in your backyard,” said Mayor Don Iveson on July 7. “It really is about having these essential pollinators back out in the ecosystem supporting food production in our gardens and supporting the biodiversity of our flowering plants as well.”

Then, at the beginning of 2015, city administration will report back to council to suggest policy and bylaw changes, where necessary.

“It’s a long time coming,” said Matthew Boeckner, following the decision. “We’ve been working on this pilot project since January. We’ve been experiencing how hard it is to get these things approved. In the bylaw, there’s a written exception that allows the city to give us permission, so we were really hoping to get that today.”

Boeckner works with the group YEGBees, and is also an enforcement officer with Environment Canada.

“They can’t change this overnight, just like the gentleman was saying, it’s going to take time. It’s probably going to take a year to go through that process, there are consultations. But what doesn’t take time is this pilot project and we can start that right now… this whole summer we now have to engage community.”

“I think the biggest misconception is that when people say they’re scared of bees, they think honey bees,” said Jocelyn Crocker, another member of YEGBees and a biological sciences technologies instructor at NAIT.

“Really, when people are scared of a black and yellow thing buzzing around them when they’re eating food at a BBQ, that’s actually a wasp. Honey bees are very docile, they’re not interested in human food, and they’re actually really important.”

“We’ve been doing this now since the bee season started,” added Broeckner, “out in Sherwood Park at some legal hives that we have out on an acreage, and we’ve had no stings to date. And we’ve had children as young as three years old inspecting the hives with us.”

The urban beekeeping pilot project will run from July to November 2014.

Once submissions are received, a select number of applicants from across the city, with residential properties that meet the suitable urban beekeeping conditions (outlined in the pilot guidelines) will be chosen.

The participants will be granted temporary permission to keep a limited amount of honeybee hives on their property during the project.

The people chosen will have to get consent from their neighbours and provide proof they completed a beekeeping course or have the support and assistance of an accepted mentor. Animal Control Peace Officers will regulate and monitor the test hives carefully to make sure everyone complies with the pilot guidelines.

The city says the purpose of the pilot is to gather more information about the enforcement needs and community concerns about urban beekeeping. The results of the pilot will be presented to the Community Services Committee in early 2015.

Animal Licensing and Control currently prohibits the keeping of bees in residential areas in Edmonton unless special permission is granted from the City Manager.

 

© Shaw Media, 2014

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