Bees, their numbers decimated by disease and the proliferation of chemicals, will have more room to buzz in Langley Township.
Following delegations in May that urged council to allow beekeeping in residential neighbourhoods, council voted unanimously on Monday to allow hobby beekeeping in specified zones.
Beekeeping in B.C. is regulated by the Bee Act but a growing number of municipalities are adjusting their bylaws to encourage the hobby.
With the introduction of any new permitted land use there is a possibility of associated bylaw enforcement complaints, chief bylaw enforcement officer Bill Storie stated in a report.
However, he added, a poll of a number of municipalities which allow beekeeping in residential areas revealed no enforcement issues.
Council will have to amend its zoning bylaw to allow beekeeping in urban residential lots. Beekeeping will be allowed in single family residential lots which must be at least 650 square metres, or 6,996 square feet in size.
The Township’s laws currently allow beekeeping only in zones that allow agricultural uses.
Last May, council heard from WindSong CoHousing resident Tricia Carpenter, a beekeeper for three years. She said that she keeps four hives on an organic farm in Abbotsford, 25 minutes away from her home in Walnut Grove. The drive to and from the hives is environmentally counterproductive, she said.
“Bees are in decline from many causes, and the situation has become critical and blueberry farmers are anxious to get hives on their properties,” she said.
Storie’s report noted that hobby beekeeping in urban areas “can be a safe and sustainable practice, increasing horticultural biodiversity and benefiting local food production.”
He also noted that a single hive can yield 60 kilos of honey each year, as well as byproducts such as pollen, royal jelly and beeswax. Because the change requires an amendment to the zoning bylaw, a public hearing will be held.