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

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Bees and City council members politics
    This is typical of our council members and thier politics – they all claim they support bees yet they are going to ban them. Last year they claimed they all supported our elm trees – yet they played politics and ended up injecting only the so called significant trees – we taxpayers end up paying 10% more for injecting 30% less elms trees – losing more trees to diease. Is this sustainable? We have wasted hundred of thousand of dollars and loss most likely over a million dollars in additional elms to diease. They played politics it is likely they will play politics with the bees.

    I have no problem with the city not wanting to keep bee hives on city property – recently they removed over tweny hives by the ecology center on city property. This could have been a liability issue. Yet I do not support them banning all bee hives in Evanston.

    A more sound approach would be to license and limit the number of hives in the community. That is no one could keep more than one hive and the number of hives would be limited by area of the community.
    Also people would keep them at thier own risk that is they should carry insurance for lawsuits.

    I have a community garden at McCormick last year within thousand feet of the twenty hives (over 1/2 million bees )even with the tweny hives there were only a few bees in my garden at any time. This was the first year in over ten years there were any bees.

    Those that claim they will be stung by bees are over reacting. If they are so concern they better walk around and look at all the yellow jacket nests in the trees. The yellow jackets are far more aggressive.

    Junad Rizki

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