Trail council agrees to backyard beekeeping

For the first time in Trail history, the city's respective bylaw will allow for the keeping of bees.

Honey bees are being removed from the list of prohibited animals in the City of Trail's Animal Control Bylaw.

Yes, beekeeping is now allowed in the City of Trail.

Council agreed to remove Apis mellifera (honey bee) from the list of prohibited animals Monday night. That means for the first time in Trail history, the city’s Animal Control Bylaw will be amended to allow beekeeping on properties within municipal boundaries.

But that doesn’t mean a lot of people will be making a beeline for apiculture supplies beekeepers are committed to the costly craft for more reasons than a jar or two of honey.

“I’m thrilled with the decision and I don’t think we are going to see a flood of area residents all of a sudden commence beekeeping,” Coun. Carol Dobie told the Trail Times following council’s unanimous decision. “The bigger picture in all of this, and mostly what I am thinking of with my role in Communities in Bloom and incrEDIBLE trail, is people are not realizing how much more we have to become agriculturally sustainable with producing our own food we can produce good food in larger quantities when we have lots of bees,” she added.

“That’s world wide, not something that’s just going to be happening in Trail. So I see Trail having the opportunity to move forward in becoming more agriculturally sustainable in planting food, and we need bees for that to happen.”

Trail Coun. Carol Dobie

Dobie initially brought the matter to council this summer after certain residents approached her with a request for Trail to re-consider its historic ban of bees.

A dozen people attended the July 18 council to plead their case, including the Kootenay’s provincial bee inspector, Alex Krause.

During the meeting Krause dispelled myths about beekeeping and shared that his father, Trail sports icon Willie Krause, kept bees for decades in the family’s back yard.

“He retired in 1975 and took up beekeeping, that’s how I got into it,” Krause said. “He had bees in East Trail for 24 years dad was a ‘guerrilla beekeeper.’

“All the neighbours got a big jar of honey for Christmas and everyone was happy.”

Even with the bee ban lifted, beekeeping will not be a carte blanche practice there will be limitations.

“With the direction from council now to develop a beekeeping bylaw, we will look more specifically at the restrictions to include within the bylaw,” explained Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac.

Limitations will include the number of hives that will be permitted on a property as well as siting restrictions with minimum setbacks of the hives from property lines.

“What the setback measurement will be is yet to be determined,” McIsaac said. “We will look for advice from the apiary inspector, Mr. Axel Krause, as well as other municipalities’ guidelines to incorporate best practices. On my preliminary review, setbacks of three metres from property lines to the side and rear of the hives were common, while the setback from the front (entrance) of the hives to any property line ranged from 6 7.5 metres (depending on whether a fence was present),” she added. “We will look more closely at this when developing the bylaw.”

Restrictions aside, the news will be welcome to those Trail residents already involved in apiculture.

“I think for those people that are interested in beekeeping that have been putting their hives in other locations, yet live in the City of Trail, this is going to make it much easier for them,” Dobie concluded. “From my understanding, and what I know of having worked with them during our initial discussions with council, they are really into beekeeping.

“And when you talk about the money that is involved, they want to make it work and look after their hives properly they are working within the rules and regulations the Province of BC has outlined.”

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