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Aldermen attack bees

Evanston aldermen voted 7-2 Monday to introduce an ordinance that would effectively ban beekeeping on all but the largest lots in Evanston.

City Health Director Jay Terry in a memo to the aldermen indicated that the ordinance would make illegal all existing beehives in the city now registered with the state.

About 20 people spoke out on the bee issue, splitting roughly three-to-one against the ordinance.

David Ucker of 2720 Park Place said, “We’ve always had bees and we always will. They live here.”

He also said the council should celebrate and support the initiative shown by Gabrial Jacobs, the young beekeeper whose hive sparked the controversy.

Jim Graham of 742 Wesley Ave. said the ordinance is designed to appease a small vocal minority objecting to the bees. “There’s no problem with bees in Chicago, where beekeeping is actively encouraged,” Mr. Graham said, and there should be no problem with beekeeping in Evanston either.

Heather Eloff of 1523 Madison St. said she lives a few doors west of the new beehive and hasn’t had any problems with bees. “A lot of people on Madison want to keep bees there,” she said, “It’s a part of nature that we enjoy.”

Even Dolan McMillan of 1519 Madison St., who initially raised the alarm about the bees last spring, sounded a somewhat more conciliatory note. Having the bees next door “has not posed a problem to me this summer,” he said. “I’m not under a constant state of fear. But logically, city-wide, it makes sense to set some kind of guidance if not restrictions on what the city thinks is safe for the practice of beekeeping.”

But Douglas Cannon a Skokie attorney who said he represents neighborhood residents opposed to beekeeping, urged the aldermen to adopt the ordinance. He said the restrictions wold not “step on” the young beekeeper. “He can just move the hive to a place where it does conform to the ordinance,” Mr. Cannon said.

The aldermen are scheduled to take final action on the ordinance at their Oct. 9 meeting.

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