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Aldermen put bee ban on hold till next time

Beekeepers in Evanston got a reprieve tonight as aldermen voted to postpone committee action on a proposal that would ban the hobby.

The aldermen asked city staff to gather more information on regulatory schemes in other communities and at least one alderman set up a visit to the home of a local beekeeper to see the bees in action.

Beekeepers in Evanston got a reprieve tonight as aldermen voted to postpone committee action on a proposal that would ban the hobby.

The aldermen asked city staff to gather more information on regulatory schemes in other communities and at least one alderman set up a visit to the home of a local beekeeper to see the bees in action.

Beekeeping is not currently regulated in Evanston, and only Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, who’s not on the Health and Human Services Committee, indicated she favors keeping it that way.

Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, said he was very sensitive to the concerns of people who fear bees, and seemed to be leaning toward permitting beekeeping only at some designated public area, perhaps near the Ladd Arboretum.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, suggested permitting beekeeping at community gardens, especiallly along the canal banks.

“Not too close to my house though,” responded Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, to that suggestion.

Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward, suggested further research into policies in other communities, including Chicago, which, she said, has no ordinance prohibiting bees.

The beekeeping issue arose when Dolan McMillan of 1519 Madison St. called city officials to complain that his next-door neighbor was installing a beehive.

He told aldermen he was concerned about threats to the safety of his family, pets and visitors posed by the bees.

“Ferrel bees exist in nature, I’m willing to take that risk,” McMillan said, but Evanston residents shouldn’t have to deal with a hive full of bees in their neighbor’s yard.

Susan Dickman of 1517 Madison St. spoke to the alderman along with her 14-year-old son Gabriel Jacobs, a freshman at Evanston Township High School who wants the bee hive.

She said, “I’m a teacher and a mother; I don’t do anything without reading and investigating and knowing what I’m getting into.”

“Honeybees are docile, highly beneficial to agriculture and backyard gardeners and regulated by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The vast majority of communities allow beekeeping,” they added.

Ken Haller of Elmhurst, president of the Illinois State Beekeepers Association, said, “I completely understand the fear of someone not used to honeybees. I was once one of those individuals, but I’m now a passionate beekeper.”

He said there are over 1,200 beekeepers in Illinois, with a significant number in Cook County, and “complaints are almost non-existent.”

Some other speakers said they’d welcome more bees in town because they pollinate plants and improve yields in the garden, but one man said if the beehives weren’t banned he’d have to mow down his flower garden for fear of being stung by the insects.

The Human Services Committee is scheduled to hold its next meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 5.

Related link
Daily Northwestern – Beehive creates hornets’ nest

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