The West University Place City Council will likely adopt some new restrictions on urban honey beekeeping in our backyards at its July 22 meeting.
Interest in the issue was prompted by a complaint from a resident about a neighbor’s honey beehive that is close to their shared property line. The resident believes urban beehives are a public nuisance and should be prohibited anywhere in West University Place. The West University Place Code currently permits beekeepers without any restrictions.
The complaining neighbor has presented the city with a proposed ordinance for consideration at the June 24 meeting of the City Council that would effectively prohibit honey beekeepers and beehives in West University Place. The city attorney also drafted an ordinance crafted after a review of the experiences of other municipalities in dealing with the urban honey beekeeper issue. The ordinance drafted by the city attorney would allow urban beehives, but with a host of screening and setback requirements.
Urban honey beekeeping is not new. The trend started in the early 2000s, at a time when bee populations were struggling because of the use of pesticides.
From New York City to Austin, densely populated cities answered with a new kind of balanced rulemaking that both allowed and encouraged urban honey beekeeping.
Honey bees are responsible for a majority of the pollination of our flowers and vegetable gardens, but also for about 35% of the food we eat. So the key is for the West University City Council to adopt an ordinance that encourages urban beekeeping but also protects surrounding property owners with reasonable regulations like flyway barriers and location restrictions. The city attorney’s proposed ordinance is a move in that direction.