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City to explore urban bee model

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South Winnipeg beekeepers are buzzing with the news that honey bee hives may one day be allowed within city limits.


On April 2, the city’s standing policy committee on protection and community services voted to review its exotic animal bylaw, which only allows honey bees in the city in specific places like schools and universities and currently prohibits apiarists from keeping bees on residential property.


A report is expected to be complete in the fall and reviewed at the committee’s Sept. 6 meeting.


Fort Garry resident Charles Polcyn — a longtime beekeeper and president of the Red River Apiarists Association — said last month that Winnipeg should follow urban beekeeping models in city’s such as Vancouver, Washington D.C. and New York, where city-based hives are regulated.


Such models include a minimum lot size; a minimum of two hives in case one has problems; a six-foot flight barrier around the hives; access to nearby water on the lot; and proper certification for the apiarist.


Another beekeeper, south St. Vital resident Ray Giguere, said moving to the urban beekeeping model would be a "win-win situation."


"It would help the industry, if people are open to it, and create cottage industries within the city," said Giguere, who operates Giguere Honey Farms south of the Perimeter Highway in St. Germain and also sells the product out of Argy’s Collectibles on St. Mary’s Road, which he manages.


"It’s a perfect idea, even if you set up hives in certain areas of the city that are fenced off.

Buffer zones are also important, but I think (the prospective bylaw) would hurt if hives were squeezed to just the four corners of the city. All in all, I think the positives would outweigh the negatives," Giguere said.


The long-time apiarist also noted that individuals harbouring fears about being swarmed and stung by bees should keep things in perspective.


"Bees are amazing creatures that do amazing things in their short lifespan," said Giguere, noting the first pollen of the season was brought into his hives by bees on March 18.


"In general, honey bees are more docile than hornets or wasps. A honey bee won’t come after you unless you really disturb it. I get stung occasionally and I tell everybody it’s better than a mosquito bite," he said.


"A small percentile of people has serious allergies. And if somebody does, they should be carrying an EpiPen (an epinephrine injector) at all times."  


For more information, visit www.beekeepingmanitoba.com or see Giguere Honey Farms on Facebook.  

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

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