Rocky Mountain House considering urban bee bylaw

Home owners would be allowed up to two hives

Backyard bees could be coming to Rocky Mountain House.

The town is considering an urban beekeeping bylaw to allow residents to raise bees in their yards.

“There’s a lot of interest in this and I think it’s pretty progressive,” said Mayor Tammy Burke, when the proposal was discussed in council recently.

“I think it would have to have a very good public education component, because I think there is a lot of fear from people with beekeeping.

“I think done responsibly, it’s a good thing.”

An open house has been set for Oct. 23. at 7 p.m. at the Christenson Sports and Wellness Centre.

Rocky Mountain House would be just the latest Alberta community to open the door to yard hives.

When drafting a proposed bylaw, town staff took a look at how urban bees are regulated by other communities, including Edmonton, Grande Prairie, High River and St. Albert.

Red Deer has a number of urban beekeepers, however, the city has yet to adopt a bylaw specifically aimed at the hobby.

Based on other communities’ experiences, town staff proposed that up to two hives be allowed on residential lots. For non-residential lots, the number of hives is based on available space.

Up to two hives would be allowed on a property 10,000 square feet or less, and up to four hives on properties larger than 10,000 square feet.

The hives have to be located at least three metres from the property line, or be located in a yard enclosed by a 1.8-metre solid fence or hedge.

A resident interested in raising bees must get support from their neighbours, in case there are allergy issues or other potential problems.

Beekeepers must also prove they have successfully completed urban beekeeping training and have a disease and swarm control plan.

Beekeepers would also be required to comply with the provincial bee and animal health acts, as well as get a certificate of registration from a provincial apiculturist and get a premises identification number.

Coun. Dave Auld questioned whether a proposed requirement that a new beekeeper must show proof they could count on the support and assistance of a “mentor” for the first year was practical, given how few beekeepers there are.

Town staff said that requirement would be reviewed. Also to be looked at will be what, if any, restrictions should be put on selling honey from urban bee hives.

Knowledgeable beekeepers have already offered their expertise to the town on how to regulate urban bees and handle situations such as swarming.

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