Open house about backyard bees in Pitt Meadows

City of Pitt Meadows will hold an information meeting in January to gauge public support

Male European honey bees on a honey comb.

Male European honey bees on a honey comb.

The City of Pitt Meadows will hold a meeting in January to gauge support for changing a bylaw that prohibits apiaries or hives in its urban area.

On Tuesday, staff presented a report to council which concluded that hobby beekeeping can be a safe activity with the appropriate regulations.

Urban apiculture as a hobby can contribute to more productive harvests from backyard, street and community gardens,” wrote development services technician Natalie Coburn.

“It is estimated that the pollination services provided by bees are often 60 to 100 times more valuable than the market price of honey.”

If supported by a majority of residents, the city could have beekeeping rules in place in time for the season, which begins in April.

The provincial apiary inspector will be at the open house to answer questions and concerns about bees 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.

Coun. Gwen O’Connell, who is allergic to bees, though, had several concerns.

O’Connell felt urban apiaries were unnecessary given that 85 per cent of Pitt Meadows is farmland.

“I feel so strongly about this. I can’t even support it going to a public meeting,” she said.