Pitt Meadows to busy to deal with bees

Request to allow hives in residential areas won’t be dealt with until fall

Male European honey bees on a honey comb.

Male European honey bees on a honey comb.

An aspiring apiarist in Pitt Meadows will have to wait until next year to find out if he can keep honey bees in his backyard.

David van Halderen asked council for an exemption from a bylaw that prohibits apiaries or hives in residential areas of the city on Tuesday. His request was denied, but managed to persuade councillors to request a staff report.

Staff, though, are swamped with projects and won’t be able to write one until September at the earliest.

The best time to start beekeeping is spring, when fruit trees and flowers are in bloom.

“I was very pleased to hear there was some support and I was happy that the process has been started,” said van Halderen. “I am confident that Kim Grout’s team will do a great job and discover the facts, which are that everyone loves the bees, that there are few to no complaints, and that the benefits severely outweigh the negatives.”

Grout is the city’s director of operations.

According to Canadian Honey Council, the country has lost 35 per cent of its honey bee colonies over the past three years due to several factors, including weather, colony collapse, mites and viruses.

Vancouver, North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Burnaby, Delta and New Westminster all allow hives in residential areas.

Mayor Don MacLean and 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.

“Perhaps you could work with a farmer to have your hives there,” she suggested to van Halderen.

MacLean, who has painful memories of being stung as a child, also agreed.

“There has to be a balance and that balance has to be the safety of citizens versus the pollination of plants.”

• Eighty-eight people have signed a petition started by David van Halderen to support beekeeping in Pitt Meadows. To sign it, click here.