OTTAWA, Ill. (AP) - Honeybees are following chickens into urban backyards and all signs show that the buzz is spreading.
Kristina Clark of Ottawa has two hives in her backyard a half-mile from Ottawa Township High School. She began the colonies this spring, driven more to help the world’s most well-known pollinator than to harvest the honey.
“I love my bees,” Clark said. “My bees are like the helpers. I do it more for the pollination than anything. I love getting in the hives and looking in. They’re pretty cool. I’m new to all this. My main goal was pollination and to save the bees.
Urban beekeepers are advised to use fences and shrubbery to deflect the bees up and over neighbors’ yards as they fly back and forth to collect nectar and pollen.
“They’re in the perfect place because they are behind my ducks and chickens with a high fence,” Clark said.
Yes, Clark’s bees have animal neighbors. This is Clark’s second year of raising ducks and chickens in the city. The chickens provide eggs and the ducks are pets, Clark said. She also grows vegetables in the front yard and backyard and calls the whole effort urban farming.
In the same way the backyard chicken movement evolved, urban honey makers will have to check city and village ordinances. Ottawa has no ordinance addressing bees, but beekeepers should be mindful of public nuisance.
“Although there is no ordinance that regulates beekeeping inside the city limits, if someone is keeping bees and they become a nuisance, at that point city officials can take action,” said Michael Sutfin, Ottawa’s building and zoning official.
Ottawa’s public nuisance ordinance has definitions, including “Substantially annoy, injure or endanger the comfort, health, repose or safety of the public” and “In any way render the public insecure in life or in the use of property.”
Clark said she has encountered no obstacles.
“When I called the city, they said they encourage that kind of thing as long as I notified my neighbors,” she said.
Her neighbors have become interested in her bees, Clark said.
“Everybody thinks it’s so fascinating,” she said.
Roelif Loveland started backyard hives this spring in Peru. He bought a traditional hive and a flow hive, which allows a beekeeper turn a handle and draw honey without opening the box.
“It makes the harvest much easier because it lets the honey flow out,” Loveland said.
Peru’s ordinance allows beekeeping under conditions. If bee colonies or hives are within 50 feet of the property boundary, then a barrier no less than 5 feet high must be installed along the boundary to prevent bees from flying low through neighbors’ yards. The barrier may be plants, such as shrubs, or a structure such as a fence or wall.
Oglesby and Utica’s ordinance reads like Peru’s. Mendota’s code does not allow bees, beehives or apiaries within the city. Princeton’s online city codes do not address bees.
Nancy Bland, Princeton animal control officer, said she is not aware of an ordinance that addresses bees in town, or of anyone with bees inside the city. One resident had bees on the north end of town in an area that has since been annexed to the city, she said.
“That’s been many years ago and I don’t of anyone else in town,” Bland said.
Clark coaxes bees onto her finger with a little honey in her backyard in Ottawa. Clark painted decorations on her bee boxes and is raising bees mostly for pollination. She expects to harvest her first honey next year.
In Peru, Loveland started the hobby under influence of his beekeeping brothers, sister and nephew, he said.
“I think the beekeeping is all driven by the fact that bees have been struggling,” Loveland said. It’s not necessarily honey-driven. It’s just to maintain the bee population. It’s really the reason we got into it.”
Clark began by buying one nuc - a nucleus colony of about 10,000 bees plus a queen bee - for $126 from a member of Illinois Valley Beekeepers Association. She bought a starter kit at a hardware store, which included a hive box, head veil, suit, gloves and smoker for $250. The smoker calms the bees. The growing interest in beekeeping has many stores now carrying supplies.
A second box cost $65. She bought an addition, or super, for $60 and a queen excluder panel for $21. This brings the total to $522 for her two hives. The bees donated their own to populate the second hive.
“Nature took its course,” Clark said.
Since this is the first year, she said, it’s best to leave honey in the hive for the winter. Honey is the bees’ energy supply.
“I want to make sure they survive,” Clark said.
Clark wears just the veil and occasionally gets stung, she said. Loveland and his wife also use bee suits and veils.
“You get stung every now and then,” Loveland said. “There are bees everywhere all the time.”
Now that his backyard bees are buzzing, Loveland has found himself drawn into the pursuit.
“It’s one of the most fascinating hobbies I’ve ever done,” he said.
Source: (LaSalle) News-Tribune, https://bit.ly/2eT9VJe
Information from: News-Tribune, https://www.newstrib.com
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