Buzz continues to swirl around Beekeeping Bylaw in Fort St. John

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Kerry Clark, who is no stranger to bees, appeared in front of Fort St. John City Council on Monday to discuss the proposed Beekeeping Bylaw in Fort St. John.

Clark noted his interest in beekeeping started when he was in High School which was a little over 50 years ago. He conducted research throughout his professional life and retired around three years ago. He is currently the President of the B.C. Honey Producers Association.

“There is a big interest in beekeeping and that is reflected in the responses to your (the city) survey. When I read the responses, I noticed a few misunderstandings.”

Clark listed his recommended amendments to the Bylaw that the City currently has on the table.

Section 4 currently states:

Beehive Management: A Beekeeper must:

  • Take reasonable steps to ensure that the apicultural operation does not pose a safety risk to persons on adjacent parcels or highways;
  • Take reasonable steps to minimize the risk of damage to adjacent buildings and property caused by Apiculture;
  • Provide Bees with access to sufficient and proximate water;
  • Re-queen the Colony if the Colony engages in swarming or aggressive behaviour;
  • Not locate a Beehive within 3 meters of any neighbouring property line;
  • Either contain a Beehive within an area surrounded by a solid 1.8 meter high fence or place the Beehive a minimum of 2.4 meters off the ground;
  • Direct the Beehive entrances away from neighbouring properties unless environmental conditions such as wind or limited sun exposure make this unhealthy for the Bees;
  • Locate Beehives in the rear yard of the property.

Clark said he doesn’t see any needs for changes in parts (a, b, c, e, g, h).

He did provide amendments as follows:

  • Re-queen the Colony if the Colony engages in aggressive behaviour;
  • Take reasonable steps to manage their colonies to avoid swarming (This would be a new line added).

He also removed the clause that stated ‘Removed: either contain a Beehive within an area surrounded by a solid 1.8 meter high fence or place the Beehive a minimum of 2.4 meters off the ground’.

The reason for taking the world ‘swarming’ out of the clause on re-queening the colony, Clark said the reason was the word ‘swarming’ was misused.

“Swarming is a concept very close to “birthing”: i.e. non-threatening, non-violent, and nonharmful (even if active, awe-inspiring and potentially spectacular). To include “swarming” in a clause prescribing one solution to aggressive bee behaviour, is, misplaced. Though swarming is not aggressive, it has the potential for the creation of an unintended and un-planned new bee colony, it is appropriate to take steps to avoid that happening.”

He said that the reason for the new clause being added was to ensure that beekeepers would understand that they need to contain their colony to prevent swarming.

“There are several options for such management (like birth control, too many to include in an enabling bylaw, so I feel they needn’t be prescribed.)”

Clark said if these changes were made, he could readily support a Beekeeping Bylaw for Fort St. John.

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