Northland Beekeepers Buzzing about Benefits from Ordinance

By KBJR News 1

October 1, 2012 Updated Oct 2, 2012 at 10:08 AM CDT

Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - Duluth City Councilor Emily Larson, who plans to present the ordinance that would allow beekeeping beyond city property zoned "rural–residential" or "rural–conservation," says it's something many Northlanders are asking for.

"There [are] a lot of people in town, here, who are passionate about it. They're ready to take it to the next level, and have it be part of their backyard activities," said Larson.

The ordinance will come with its share of restrictions...

"...a limit of 5 hives of certain dimensions, within certain boundaries and certain property lines. And then there's also the exciting component of being a rooftop beekeeper," said Larson.

...and require a license for a nominal fee.

"...around $10—that's what it is for the chicken ordinance," said Larson.

...which has area apiarists, like Sharilyn Walters—of the family–owned, neighbor–inclusive beekeeping group, Miel Duluth—buzzing about the potential.

"Beekeeping in the urban areas produces such a delightful honey. In Duluth, just about everybody's got a garden of some sort," said a very cheery Walters.

Walters, who has been beekeeping since the 70s, says she's met her hillside neighbors through the hobby: "...because they say, 'my apple trees are covered! I've got a great crop of tomatoes this year!'"

According to Walters, urban beekeeping could not only improve the neighborhoods in which the hives are found, but also Duluth's overall green image.

"With all of our city parks, and the natural beauty that we have around here, it can only benefit Duluth's overall image that we really are a green city," said Walters.

And, for hesitant neighbors who fear the sting over the sweetness, Walters—who is highly allergic to bee stings—says proper education and prevention on the beekeeper's part would make the difference.

"We keep extra EpiPens on for visitors," said Walters, who also said it's the responsibility of any beekeeper to begin an open dialogue with neighbors before introducing bees to their property.

...in hopes that the City Council will seriously consider this sweet deal.

The ordinance will be introduced at next Monday's meeting, and, according to Larson, a decision will hopefully be made the following week.