Pitt Meadows bee bylaw to public hearing next week

Male European honey bees on a honey comb. - The New/Files
Male European honey bees on a honey comb.
— image credit: The New/Files

The City of Pitt Meadows has a lot of support for changing a bylaw that prohibits urban bee keeping.

The bylaw for apiaries or hives in its urban area goes to public hearing next week and should be in place in time for spring.

City planner Dana Parr said an open house held by the city in January found most residents were in favour of urban bee keeping.

The new bylaw proposes limiting the number of colonies to two for lots less than 1,000 square metres and four colonies for lots greater than 1,000 sq. metres.

Hive owners will also have to maintain a 1.8 metre (six foot) high hedge around any property containing beehives or provide adequate setbacks between the hives and adjacent properties.

The owners will also have to make sure there is adequate water for the bees to prevent them from flying over a fence for a drink in neighbouring swimming pools, birdbaths or ponds.

As per provincial legislation, all beehive owners will have to register with the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture .

Currently, there are approximately 3,000 beekeepers with hives registered in Metro Vancouver, with a large percentage of them based in urban areas.

It has been legal to keep bees in residential areas in Richmond, Surrey, the District of North Vancouver and West Vancouver for decades, while Vancouver, Delta and Burnaby recently changed bylaws that prohibit urban hives.

There are now beehives on the roof of the Vancouver convention centre, its city hall, the patio of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel and on high-rises across New York.

Parr said the city has not expanded the bylaw to include multi-family or apartment complexes yet.

She doesn’t expect any problems with hobby beekeepers once the bylaw is in place.

“A lot of municipalities have permitted bee-keeping for a while and they’ve not had any problems,” Parr added.

City staff received only one email opposed to beekeeping in the urban area.

David van Halderen got the city to take a look at its bylaw last year after he found out hives were prohibited in urban back yards. Although he’s since moved out of Pitt Meadows, van Halderen welcomes the proposed changes.

“It’s about time,” he said, while getting ready to set up hives for the first time in Vancouver.

“I can’t believe it took so long and couldn’t believe there was a push back against the hives from some people. I think Pitt Meadows is moving in the right direction.”

• A public hearing is set for March 20 at city hall.

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