A committee of the Minneapolis City Council last week approved a city ordinance to allow beekeeping within the city limits. Mmm ... honey! The ordinance, introduced by Ward 3 Councilwoman Diane Hofstede and passed by the council's Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee, allows anyone living on 1/2 acre or less to have up to two bee colonies, with additional colonies permitted the larger the property. St. Paul already allows the practice.
1. Bees are important pollinators for fruits, vegetables and flowers. Insects pollinate about one third of our food supply, and honeybees do the majority of that. We need them in our fruit trees and gardens.
2. Each hive can produce 50-100 pounds of honey annually. This is far more than one household can usually use, so beekeepers can share or sell honey, providing a great local food source and potentially a small income.
3. Bee products such as beeswax, pollen, propolis, royal jelly and honey itself all have tremendous health benefits and medicinal uses. Beeswax is another valuable and delightful product of beekeeping.
4. Bees are in trouble. Honeybees have been facing problems from mites for years. More recently Colony Collapse has raise[d] alarm about a variety of human-based stresses on bee populations. UMN is home to cutting-edge research on bee health, and beekeeping hobbyists can support and contribute to this important work.
Before you get your backyard apiary started, you have to get a $100 permit and meet certain "educational requirements" established by Minneapolis Animal Care and Control. Oh, and your neighbors have gotta be on board with it too.
There's already keen interest in the practice and a number of producers statewide. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has a comprehensive listing. Minnesota also has a couple groups committed to the cause (here and here) -- hey, maybe they can tell you where to get that cool beekeeper gear (great Halloween costume too btw!).
EDIT: Oops, looks like we need a refresher in city politics! A Hot Dish reader informed us that the ordinance is not yet legal, and is now pending passage by the entire council. Thanks!