Bee bylaw gets batted around - InfoNews

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Bee bylaw gets batted around

Kamloops city council is holding a public hearing on Tuesday, April 1, 2014 on a bylaw amendment that would allow backyard beekeeping in the city.
Image Credit: Marin Bee Company
March 30, 2014 - 10:06 AM

KAMLOOPS — City councillors are considering allowing backyard beekeeping, but at least one resident is concerned an increase in bees could mean an increase in bears.

Council agreed to send the proposed bylaw amendment to a public hearing earlier this month. 

In an effort to promote biodiversity and food security, city staff is recommending beekeeping in backyards be allowed. The number of hives would be dependent on the size of the lot.

To minimize the impact, staff suggest setbacks and flight path regulations. Under provincial legislation anyone keeping bees is required to register under the Apiary Registration Program, which helps deal with complaints, inspections and disease.

While resident Neil Marshall is supportive of bees in general, he is concerned the bees will bring more bears to town. He isn't conviced the city is prepared to deal with that.

Paul van Westendorp, an apiculturist with the province, feels the wording in the bylaw about swarming could be misconstrued by the public.

“This makes it appear that these terms are synonymous but they are not,” he says of the term swarming and aggressive behaviour.

“Swarming is actually the opposite in that the bee swarm has left the nest and have no desire to defend that nest. Swarming bees are distinctly non-defensive during this unique form of reproductive behaviour.”

Van Westendorp also answers the question about bears.

“Beekeepers are pretty protective of their bees and equipment and with any report of bear activity, electric fences are installed,” he notes.

“In most parts of the province beekeepers install electric fences in all apiaries in the bush... before any bear problems arise.”

The provincial specialist hasn't witnessed any problems in communities where beekeeping has been permitted over the last 10 years. That includes the city of Vancouver.

The public hearing will take place Tuesday evening.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

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