After months spent debating whether to ban beekeeping in Evanston, aldermen Monday night decided to simply try to assure that beekeepers take good care of their bees.

Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, proposed the change of course. He said he sees no threat to neighbors where hives are well-maintained, and that the real danger comes from beekeepers who fail to maintain the right conditions for their bee colony.

The aldermen voted 5-4 to approve Bernstein’s substitute ordinance, after spending nearly an hour debating other changes proposed by Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward.

She proposed more modest easing of the draft ordinance’s limits on beekeeping and ultimately voted against the plan that was adopted.

The ordinance as adopted:

  • Requires that beekeepers be licensed by the state and city
  • Removes all lot-size requirements for beekeeping. The draft ordinance had limited beekeeping to lots wider than 50 feet.
  • Requires that hives be fenced, with a locked gate and signage warning of the presence of bees.
  • Eliminates the requirement that beekeepers construct a flyway barrier of solid fencing.
  • Requires that beekeepers provide a convenient source of water for the bees so they don’t go looking for it in other people’s water sources.
  • Requires that beekeepers maintain the hive appropriately.
  • Eliminates limits on the number of colonies or hives that can be kept on a lot.
  • Limits to eight the number of apiary sites in each ward, up from four in the draft ordinance.
  • Increases penalties for violating the ordinance from a minimum fine of $10 to a minimum of $500.
  • Requires that beekeepers pay a $25 annual license fee to the city.

Aldermen Wollin, Jean-Baptiste, Wynne and Rainey voted in favor of the ordinance that was approved. Aldermen Holmes, Moran and Tisdahl voted against it.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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