Sioux Falls city councilors propose beekeeping ordinance

Published: Oct. 1, 2019 at 11:22 PM CDT
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The Sioux Falls city council was buzzing about what may end up being literal buzzing in the backyards of Sioux Falls neighborhoods. Should beekeeping be allowed in the city?

City Councilors Theresa Stehly and Janet Brekke presented the rough draft to the council at an informational meeting. The ordinance was drafted after hearing beekeeping classes were offered in the city, but no city ordinance allowed for the hobby.

"Bees do sting. That's just going to be upfront and honest about it."

They do, which is a concern among many of the councilors that heard about this ordinance. But, beekeeper, Tim Olsen, says people who are nervous about the tiny insect don't have to worry.

"Much of the stinging can be managed," Olsen said. "Typically, as we teach in our beekeeping classes, the person most likely to be stung is the beekeeper, him or herself."

Olsen says if the bees are well-managed, it shouldn't be an issue.

The rough draft mentions several restrictions for those looking to make some honey. A six-foot barrier is required so bees will have to fly up in the air and away from neighbors. There would also be a $50 permit and any bee hives must be at least 25 feet away from the nearest home.

Each person wanting a permit is only allowed four colonies. They also need permission from surrounding homeowners.

But, before you buy your first round of bees, it's important to note the hobby isn't cheap. According to Olsen, you have to purchase protective equipment, smokers, and the bees are $750 per colony.

Those who back the idea believe bees could benefit the community with increased pollination, which means more vegetables, fruit, and vibrant flowers.

"Anything we can do to help facilitate their activity is going to be a plus," Councilor Theresa Stehly, said. "From everything from our food, to our air quality, to the pollination of our beautiful flowers. So, we see it as a win-win for the quality of life in Sioux Falls."

Councilor Stehly is interested in hearing how the public feels about the issue. She wants to assure people they are going to be safe and secure if someone wants a beehive in their backyard.

Both councilors expect only five to ten people will want to take part in the hobby and purchase a permit.

The first reading of the ordinance will happen in the next couple of weeks.